Thursday, June 28, 2007
By Bivan Saluseki and Webster Malido
Thursday June 28, 2007 [04:00]
PATRIOTIC Front president Michael Sata yesterday said he wanted to embarrass President Levy Mwanawasa had he been allowed to give a vote of thanks during the launch of the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) at Mulungushi International Conference Centre on Tuesday.
And United Party for National Development (UPND) acting president Richard Kapita has said that his party would not withdraw from the constitution-making process, which is being spearheaded by ZCID.
And Sata said his withdrawal was temporal and he would follow whatever position the Oasis Forum would come up with on the constitution- making process.
Sata confirmed the fears expressed by the MMD over making him deliver a vote of thanks to President Mwanawasa's speech at the launch of ZCID on Tuesday.
"The MMD are right. I was going to embarrass their President. I had prepared for him. I wanted to cross-examine him. I am ready to meet him. In fact, I am looking forward to meeting him so that I cross-examine him," Sata said in an interview.
Sata said President Mwanawasa was trying to put a black veil over people's faces over the constitution-making process.
"I want to force Levy to give details of the constitution-making process," he said.
Sata said he wanted President Mwanawasa to clarify his proposals over the Constitution. He said PF would work with civil society and the Oasis Forum and would follow any decision made by the Forum.
Sata said Zambia needed a constitution that would address several ills affecting the people because political parties were inadequate.
"All politicians are very selfish. They must be pushed," he said.
Sata said when it suited them, politicians could even be baptised in baby swimming pools just because they needed the support of the Church.
"They would even attend churches they don't even know even when they are atheists," he said.
Sata said PF members of central committee would meet on Saturday to chart the way forward.
"We shall dance to the tune of the Oasis Forum. These people are serious. They are people who mean business. We shall listen to the Oasis Forum. If they want a demonstration at SADC conference, we shall go in full force," he said.
"You can't trust Levy Mwanawasa. We can't listen to Levy Mwanawasa. He is hoodwinking us just because of the SADC meeting. In other countries, he wouldn't even be President."
Sata said PF would go wherever President Mwanawasa would be meeting people if that was the only way he could be accessed.
And Sata said Katele Kalumba still had excess baggage in terms of corruption cases and should therefore not have been made board chairperson of ZCID. He said the same treatment being given to Chiluba should have been extended to Kalumba.
Sata said Kalumba's treatment simply showed that the fight against corruption was selective.
Sata said he had earlier been happy with the presidents' summit but later realised that President Mwanawasa should have given more details and not just a proposal on the constitution-making process.
On FDD secretary general Newton Nguni's statement that those who wanted to remain behind would become irrelevant, Sata said Nguni and other ZCID members were merely interested in allowances.
"They are job seekers. They are looking for employment," he said.
Sata said PF was still relevant.
And at a ZCID launch cocktail party at Hotel Intercontinental in Lusaka on Tuesday, Kapita said it was wrong for outsiders to suggest that the UPND had also pulled out of the ZCID process on constitution-making.
On Tuesday, Sata announced the pull-out of his party from the ZCID, saying that President Mwanawasa and other political parties that had gone with him would achieve disaster over the constitution-making process.
But Kapita said UPND would remain committed to the process that had been started by ZCID.
"We will remain involved and engaged until we finish. It's not correct to state that UPND has withdrawn from the process. We all want a good constitution, let those with other agendas remain outside," Kapita said.
"It's a long process but we are willing to stick it out until Zambians are given a good constitution."
And Ng'uni said the process that had been started by the ZCID would not wait for those who were not ready.
"The train has started. Those who want to remain behind will be left behind and will become irrelevant," said Ng'uni.
And United Liberal Party president Sakwiba Sikota said the launch of the ZCID was successful because it was preceded with the summit of presidents, which he said exceeded many people's expectations.
Sikota said what was now needed was to build on the momentum that was started on Saturday which brought a new sense of cooperation among political players.
But he said it was important that the new process carried along all other players such as civil society and the Church because they were all essential.
Sikota reiterated that the proposed constitution conference would be the one to adopt the new constitution while Parliament would only enact it.
He said the composition of the constitution conference was not agreed upon at last Saturday's meeting and that all stakeholders would be involved in deciding itse composition.
Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy regional representative for East and Southern Africa Renier Nijskens urged political parties to ensure that those who had gone out are brought back.
Nijskens said other stakeholders should be convinced to be supportive of the process.