NEVERS Mumba has warned President Edgar Lungu to act now and stop corruption in his government before it kills him. And Mumba says in the eyes of Zambians, until he proves them wrong, President Lungu seems to be in the driving seat of corruption.
In an interview in Lusaka following corruption allegations in the award of huge government contracts, Mumba, the MMD president, advised President Lungu to quickly kill the rising corruption momentum in the country.
He warned that if the President does not kill the corruption under his administration, it would kill him, the Patriotic Front and the future aspirations of his family members long after leaving the presidency.
“So it is in his interest to speedily do something about the mounting allegations of corruption that surround he himself and his government,” Mumba said, warning him that it would be a fatal position not to respond to Chishimba Kambwili and others who are accusing him and his government of involvement in corruption.
“I know how troubling it is for people you consider as your opponents to be sounding like mosquitoes in your ears and you think by slapping the mosquitoes and killing them, you are actually curing your problem. I think that is not averting it,” Mumba said.
“When I was serving under president Levy Mwanawasa as his deputy, we had a similar problem coming from Michael Sata in the opposition. Everyday he would raise allegations against Mr Mwanawasa. I remember one day President Mwanawasa sat with me and that day he called me Pastor Mumba, he said ‘Pastor Mumba, what do you think about these reckless statements by Mr Sata, they are really annoying me?’ So I said the best thing is to ignore him. Then he said ‘Pastor Mumba, I cannot ignore these allegations because ignoring them does not help me and does not help the future of my family long after I am gone. Zambians are listening to them, they are recording and once I leave this office, these things will be alive. If I don’t answer him, it will be an admission of guilt’; so he went on air and answered.”
He said Mwanawasa also instructed the Anti-Corruption Commission and other investigative wings to proceed with investigations and also asked Sata to feel free to go to court, the ACC and all the other bodies in order for his name to be cleared.
“I think this is lacking in President Lungu. It is an extremely worrying trend in this administration. The reason why the President needs to hurry over this matter is that unfortunately for him, he has a very unfortunate cabinet. Most of them have very humble backgrounds and very difficult upbringing that they have never seen wealth on the table in the manner they are seeing it today,” Mumba said.
“It reminds me of a story of a young man who comes from the village where food and eating are a problem, who comes to town and finds loaves of bread on the table; eggs, bacon in huge quantities. He begins to eat and refuses to stop eating. The stomach bursts and dies. And that is what I see with this administration. The ministers he has assembled have got very humble backgrounds where they have never seen, before they became ministers, they have never seen a million kwacha or even a K500,000, which was called theirs. Now they have access to hundreds of millions of kwacha and they are eating like that boy from the village until their stomachs burst, until the stomach of PF bursts.”
He said what was happening in the PF administration was not just corruption but theft that someone had to account for.
“…In Bemba, we say they are behaving like ba Pompwe, who steal kukupompolola meaning they steal to dry up the coffers of this country. Tell me, how many houses can you live in at one time? Just one house for your children. We have a situation where President Lungu and members of his cabinet, some of them came when they had one house, which they built in 25 years. In the last three years, they have acquired and built more than ten houses. Even if you want to rent out those properties, how much money will you need to live an honourable life and leave an inheritance for your children? How many cars can you drive at one moment, when I [see] Kaizer Zulu buying three Range Rovers at once? That is not eating to satisfy hunger, that is to eat for waste, for greed and I think that is what Zambians have a problem with,” Mumba said.
He said the current PF administration did not have self-control and President Lungu had aggravated the problem by being quiet in expressing anger, frustration, and a strong arm in challenging those implicated for corruption.
“In the eyes of us Zambians who are watching on the outside, we think that he [President Lungu] seems to be in the driving seat until he proves us wrong,” said Mumba.
“Not only are we struggling with salaries, the government has also refused to raise the floor price of maize, which in the deep villages, one bag of maize is going at K35 because the ones who are buying it have to sell it at K60, so it’s a destruction of a sector before our eyes.”
He said Zambians hate corruption and that no president that has been called corrupt survived.
Mumba said Rupiah Banda had lost the presidency within three years because of the corruption tag on him.
He said the corruption under President Lungu’s administration was way beyond that which prevailed under Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba and Banda administrations combined.
“This is like daylight robbery. We don’t mind if the President is engaged in trying to fight it, we can give him the benefit of the doubt but he seems to be the driver of that process. Why do I say he seems to be the driver? First, the President has surprised me. Zambians are asking him to account for his wealth and it is impossible for him to account for his wealth,” said Mumba. “When he first stood for President in 2015, his net worth was K2.3 million. Today he is above K23 million. What business is he doing?”