Friday, July 27, 2007
By Brighton Phiri
Friday July 27, 2007 [04:00]
OPPOSITION UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has asked President Mwanawasa to treat Dr Kenneth Kaunda differently. Commenting on President Mwanawasa's statement that Dr Kaunda was ungrateful and that he had forgotten that it was he (Mwanawasa) who persuaded former president Frederick Chiluba to pay him his benefits after 1991, Hichilema said he would not use the words President Mwanawasa used against Dr Kaunda if he were in his position.
He said it could be for the benefit of the country if President Mwanawasa found time to sit down with the former leaders and address their views.
Women for Change (WfC) executive director Emily Sikazwe yesterday asked President Mwanawasa to have respect for Dr Kaunda. Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo said it was an insult for President Mwanawasa to claim that the MMD leadership had done more than Dr Kaunda.
Sikazwe said it was embarrassing for President Mwanawasa to continue demeaning Dr Kaunda.
“It is sad reading that President Mwanawasa continues to demean Dr Kaunda when under our Zambian traditions, he is supposed to be his father and that he deserves his respect,” Sikazwe said.
Sikazwe reminded President Mwanawasa that Dr Kaunda’s emoluments did not depend on his personal mercy because they were constitutional.
“It makes sad reading each time Dr Kaunda speaks out, President Mwanawasa refers to his emoluments when he is entitled to them,” she said.
She further reminded President Mwanawasa that Dr Kaunda was entitled to freedom of expression.
Sikazwe said it was embarrassing for President Mwanawasa to compare the MMD government’s achievements to that of Dr Kaunda’s.
“President Mwanawasa must know that Dr Kaunda served longer than any of the two MMD presidents. It is extremely embarrassing for President Mwanawasa who will assume the SADC chairmanship to embark on battles which he will not win,” she said.
Nkombo said it was shameful for President Mwanawasa to call Dr Kaunda, who was a statesman and an internationally recognised leader, a chap.
“By any standard Dr Kaunda, going by his age, he is not only an old man but an internationally recognised figure who deserves respect,” Nkombo said.
He warned President Mwanawasa that it would spell doom for him if he continued resenting Dr Kaunda’s views.
He said President Mwanawasa’s attack on Dr Kaunda confirmed that his ability to restrain from reacting to divergent views was deteriorating.
“Just last week, President Mwanawasa got into an open fight against Zambia International Business Council chairman Lord Simon Cairns and now he is attacking an old man,” he said.
He said President Mwanawasa’s remarks on Dr Kaunda were tantamount to insults.
“President Mwanawasa is even younger that Dr Kaunda’s first born son Panji...it is a taboo for President Mwanawasa to call Dr Kaunda a chap,” Nkombo said.
“We can’t afford to have a head of state who whenever he opens his mouth he antagonises someone. It can take President Mwanawasa a phone call to talk to the old man if he has something to say. Otherwise it is an insult for President Mwanawasa to tell Dr Kaunda that he has done more than him. Can he compare himself to the infrastructure which Dr Kaunda built? What has MMD got to show as compared to Dr Kaunda’s schools, hospitals, health centres and parastatals?”
During a meeting with MMD officials in Livingstone on Tuesday, President Mwanawasa accused Dr Kaunda of de-campaigning the MMD government in foreign countries he had been visiting because he (Kaunda) hated the ruling party for getting him out of power.
“I used to plead with President Chiluba to sign his cheque and when he did, I personally went to give it to him. Now the chap is de-campaigning me just because he hates my party for removing him from office,” President Mwanawasa said.
“Kaunda should forget about the grudge he has for the MMD and just accept that things are better than they were before.”