IT’S is not true that President Edgar Lungu came into State House a poor man; he had a life even before that, claims chief government spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga. And the information and broadcasting minister says it is wrong to insinuate that President Lungu is building shopping malls and other property using taxpayers’ money.
Meanwhile, Mulenga says it is not wrong for President Lungu to travel with his business associates and posing for photographs with them for as long as it was not the government paying their bills. Mulenga has come to President Lungu’s defence following Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili’s allegations last week that the Head of State was building several properties in Lusaka and challenged him to deny it.
Kambwili, the former information minister who was dismissed last November and now expelled from the PF, a decision he has contested in the High Court, said President Lungu must explain the source of his wealth because he had all of a sudden embarked on huge construction projects around Lusaka and in Petauke. But Kampamba said there was nothing wrong with President Lungu owning property because he was a Zambian citizen who made money during his law practice before he came Republican President.
She told News Diggers in a telephone interview from South Africa where she is on government duty that it was not true that President Lungu was building around Lusaka, but quickly defended the move saying it was not illegal for the Head of State to own property.
“…like we have clearly said, Honourable Kambwili should have questioned all these things when he was in government. Can he specify that ‘this mall and this mall are being built by President Lungu’, because we are not aware of that. And also, what we must realise is that the President had a life before he became President. He is a lawyer. So questioning his capabilities because he is now the President is neither here nor there,”
Mulenga said in reaction to Kambwili’s allegations.
“What we must realise is that before the presidency, President Lungu is a very well educated man, he was a lawyer, so it is not like President Lungu just came in a poor man, no! We know lawyers are one of the most handsomely paid professionals in Zambia. This is not to say that President Lungu is building [shopping] malls through taxpayers’ money, it is not true. But questioning the aspect of whether President Lungu can own property, yes he is a Zambian. He is a Zambian entitled under the Constitution to own property, but it does not mean that when you own property, every property you own is coming from taxpayers money, it’s not true. President Lungu has clearly stated even before, that he was in business. It is not true that President Lungu came into State House a poor man, he is a lawyer by profession…”
She wondered why Kambwili did not raise the issues he was talking about today against President Lungu before he was fired. Mulenga claimed she could disclose to the public in an event that she discovered that President Lungu was involved in corruption. She further claimed she could resign from government to protect her integrity.
“That is what noble people, credible people do. They don’t wait to be fired to say President Lungu is corrupt. If I see that the decisions we are making in Cabinet are not going well with the Zambia people, I would resign on moral ground, I will not wait until I am fired,”
And on why President Lungu spent four days in Swaziland where he attended the Reed Dance after which photos of him, his aides and business associates in emahiya were posted on Facebook, Mulenga said there were two events taking place at once.
“The President was also invited for the National Reed Dance. There were two events taking place at once. And that invitation was a gesture from his counterpart. The Trade Fair has not even finished, it finishes next week Monday,” she said, adding that it was disrespectful for government to allow the President to travel with few people.
“There is the presidential affairs minister that accompanied him, there is a political advisor, and there is a press aide that accompanied him. So who did Honourable Kambwili want to accompany the President? Those are part of the presidential delegation and they have been from time immemorial. Every time a President travels, he travels with a delegation. There is no way…look, this is the presidency for goodness’ sake. The Presidency is a big institution and we are not going to demean and undermine the institution because Honourable Kambwili says one or two people should accompany the President. Ubufuma buchindika umwine (One has to respect himself in order to be respected)…”
On the pictures of President Lungu with his aides and business associates which were posted on social media, Mulenga claimed the businessmen were not in Swaziland at government expense.
“Honourable Kambwili has already said that Mr Valden Findlay is a businessman, do you think, in his own capacity, Mr Findlay can fail to pay for his accommodation? If he has that evidence that Mr Findlay used taxpayers money to get himself there, he might as well raise a query. We know that Mr Findlay owns Chrismar Hotel, he has been in business for a long time. You think he can fail to pay for his accommodation? And we also know that under the laws of Zambia, it is illegal for anyone to deal in drugs, so since Honourable Kambwili seems to have so much information, why hasn’t he reported them to the law enforcers? People have accused Honourable Kambwili of so many things, but no one is guilty until proven innocent,” Mulenga said.
“He knows the speculations of social media, how people are accused innocently. But in any case, what is wrong with Mr Findlay being found with the President in Swaziland? What crime has he done? How many people appear with the President in public? What crime would that be if Mr Findlay appeared in public with the President? That was a public event, even me if I had the money, I would have gone, even Honourable Kambwili if he had the money, he should have travelled to Swaziland, nobody was going to question him.”
On Kambwili’s claims that President Lungu’s former ministerial House was still being occupied by his childen, Mulenga said the government was not aware of that.
She accused Kambwili of wanting to distract the government from performing.
“…This is one man who says the President has so many houses, then the other moment he says he has no house, he is using the ministerial house for his family. We are not going to continue answering Kambwili because he just wants to distract government from performing. The way he wants President Lungu convicted, if Honourable Kambwili had any evidence of all those allegations, he would have submitted all that information to the law enforcers already,” said Mulenga.
“He knows where to take evidence. The judiciary is very independent and the President won’t interfere. A man that switches his tongue is a very dangerous man. If President Lungu brought him back in government, Honourable Kambwili can switch and say, ‘I was moved by evil spirits from the other side that’s why I said those things’.”