FORMER Zambia’s high commissioner to Australia George Zulu says there is reason for panic in the ruling Patriotic Front in Eastern Province.
But Zulu says him and Colonel Panji Kaunda are not enemies of the Patriotic Front.
Last week, Eastern Province PF information and publicity secretary William Phiri said losing power would be regrettably the most painful thing for easterners as they would have failed their son President Edgar Lungu.
Phiri said political gurus like Col Kaunda, Zulu, Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika, Johabie Mtonga, Mike Tembo and Lucas Phiri, among others, should not mislead easterners but rally behind President Lungu and make the PF’s campaign easier next year.
Reacting to Phiri’s sentiments, Zulu said the confusion in the PF is caused by leaders and not innocent people like him and Col. Panji.
“There is reason for panic in our organisation but it will not be helpful for our current leaders to start pointing accusing fingers at wrong people. The confusion in the province is caused by those leaders and not us innocent people, the followers, no!” he said. “This falsehood has been going on for far too long for me and Panji and it now merits public correction in order to preserve our individual honour, reputation and dignity.”
Zulu said it was neither Panji nor himself and others mentioned by Phiri who were destabilising the party.
“It is our leaders who are destabilising the party, they must think and work hard. Lekani ntchito zamanja bao zilabile (let the works of their hands speak),” he said.
Zulu said leaders in Eastern Province must have a checklist of what they have done for the people of the province against their Bemba colleagues.
“Our colleagues, the Bembas are united, they lobby for each other, that’s why you’ll find that one Bemba family is all in government. All the ministries, you’ll find that a minister, permanent secretary, directors are Bembas because they lobby, we shouldn’t blame them,” he said. “Now people from Eastern Province, they are doing other things because our leaders are the ones with the problem because where is their checklist? What have they done for the Province against the promises we made?”
Zulu said if the leaders fulfilled the promises they made to the people there would be no need of accusing anyone of destabilizing the party.
“As legitimate members and indeed part of Michael Sata’s inner circle, we’ll not stop talking where we see that we are not performing to the expectation. It’s our duty and right to give them checks and balances within the organisation. That is not a crime! It is said that power cannot be reality unless it is exercised in the best interests of the people whose commodity it is,” he said.
Zulu said Dr Kenneth Kaunda was popular in Eastern Province because of what he did for the province like the formation of the Eastern Cooperative Union.
“The Eastern Cooperative Union was like the mine for the people of Eastern Province. It created employment for the people here. We’ve arable land, good rains but our roads are bad. People in Chadiza appear as if they are not part of Zambia. You drive to Chadiza, you drive to Vubwi, you drive anywhere, the roads are not done. You remember that one time, Paramount Chief Mpezeni said ‘neo nakamba nalema sinizakambapo soti (I have spoken and I am tired of talking, I will not speak about it again). Our leaders, our MPs, should have continued from there,” he said.
Zulu said it was not good for leaders to accuse innocent people for their failure.
“We need them to work, there is still time. Let them work. Regionalism and tribalism is not anything on the plate of the people of Eastern Province. They’ll just go for any good man black, white, yellow or green, they will go for him as long as he is good,” he said. “We should just work, if we don’t work, the people are going to judge us 2021. It’s not a must that we are going to persuade the chiefs if we are working. My brother Phiri, please, let’s work.”
Zulu said Col Panji and him had been willing to work with the PF leaders but that they were being rejected.
“Our leaders even when you want to greet them they think you want to beg for something. Our leaders here in Eastern Province don’t even greet. If you want to greet them yourself, they think you are going to beg. Let the leaders have time for the people they serve, the people who put them there,” he said. “As for these contracts, let them spread them not the same people that they gave last year, this year – you’re are not developing the province. Let everybody feel they’re part of government. If they do this, we are going to agree and we’ll stop talking but if they don’t do that we’ll be talking. We can be accused of any name but we’ll not fail to talk in defence of the people.” Zulu said he campaigned for Sata everywhere and promised the people that the PF would work on the Chipata/Vubwi road but that nobody talks about it now.
He said he had made every effort to associate with the leaders in the province but that they had never been accommodative.
“If Mr Phiri had anything legitimate, he would have directed his blame to our PF leaders in the province. We have never refused to work as a team of the East and never have we been disloyal to the party of Michael Chilufya Sata. It’s our current double sim [card] leaders of the province who do not work as a team,” he said.
Zulu said current leaders were not visible to their people like the way former leaders such as Dr Kaunda, Reuben Chitandika Kamanga and others were to the people.