Wednesday, January 02, 2008
By Lambwe Kachali
Wednesday January 02, 2008 [03:00]
I AM going ahead to contest the MMD presidency despite President Levy Mwanawasa brushing me aside, MMD presidential aspirant Professor Clive Chirwa has declared. And Prof Chirwa said he met UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata because they are Zambian citizens.
President Mwanawasa in an exclusive interview in Mfuwe with The Post managing editor Amos Malupenga said he was against Prof Chirwa and that he commands a lot of support, saying none of his supporters would support Prof Chirwa.
President Mwanawasa further said Prof Chirwa’s meeting with Hichilema and Sata was suspicious.
But in a telephone interview from the United Kingdom, Prof Chirwa said President Mwanawasa’s statement was extremely unfortunate. Prof Chirwa advised President Mwanawasa to be tolerant and accommodate anybody with intentions of contesting the MMD presidency.
“The President’s statement is extremely unfortunate that he has brushed me aside…as one member within the MMD. What should be done is for him to say, yes Prof Chirwa is an MMD candidate, and he has come forward in a democratic party. He should have said that everybody is allowed to do that but I have my own preferred choice that I want to become president. Brushing me out like that is not good,” Prof Chirwa said. “What wrong have I done for the President not to allow me to become MMD presidential candidate, first of all? All I have done is that I have put my name forward as a candidate for MMD.
Therefore, it would have been nice for President Mwanawasa to diplomatically say, okay, I have my own preferred candidate but everybody interested within the party should bring their candidature forward. That should have been the words from the President rather than scaring me.”
He said he did not want to involve President Mwanawasa the time he declared his candidature because he knew that the convention was still away from taking place.
“There is diplomatic language which is supposed to be used in such particular cases. So far, I have not tried to involve President Mwanawasa because I understand who he is and therefore, I want to make sure that before I start involving him in, we are near to the convention, where I will be presenting my case,” he said.
Prof Chirwa said he would not look back because his objectives were to serve Zambia.
He said Zambia had many problems, which needed to be addressed; saying his vision for the country was strong, effective and efficient.
“I have seen in many countries where the incumbent president may support his preferred person, but does not prevent other candidates from contesting positions of their choice.
This is a democratic society and my decision is a personal and national cause. I have policies to take this country far much further than where we are now. It’s not all about money, it’s not about where you come from, but it’s about who is gonna take this country, truly drive this country from where it is to far much ahead,” Prof Chirwa said. “And also to see that this country becomes one of the most developed countries in the world. This is what I am talking about. I am talking about bringing workable policies and answers to problems our society is facing.”
On President Mwanawasa’s remark that he had been living in a foreign environment for a long time and that he (Prof Chirwa) should not think that people are foolish or incapable to provide leadership at home, Prof Chirwa said he was coming back to Zambia to serve the country and people in general.
“There is nothing of being shy or fear when you have a vision for your country. I should not be intimidated because I have been out of the country for some time. That is not an issue. Let me tell you something Kachali, if you look at the statistics in terms of money people living outside contribute, it’s so much more. Last year alone, statistics show that over US$250 million dollars came from people living outside the country. Money is coming in as far as I can see. So, what I am saying is that I have been contributing to my country all the time in those lines.
That is point number one,” Prof Chirwa said. “Point number two, is that now I want to help my country at government level in ensuring that our riches trickle down to the poor in villages and shanty areas. These are people who have had no tangible help for a long time. That is where my focus and support is.”
Asked if he had support from Zambians and other government officials, Prof Chirwa said he was satisfied with the support he is receiving from both ordinary Zambians and MMD officials.
“I have got ministers who are giving me a lot of support. They actually call me all the time here in the UK. But that is not the case. What I mean is that support is there, but I am not supported as Clive Chirwa living outside but because Clive Chirwa has got good economic policies. And these are the policies I will put forward to save this nation from poverty,” he said.
Asked what he would do if the MMD convention is held before September 2010, as the party’s constitution does not allow someone to contest for presidency when they have not served in the party for three and above years, Prof Chirwa said if that was done then it would be clear that someone was behind to cut him off.
“Because what I have been told by some senior MMD officials is that the convention will take place in December 2010, which will mean by then I will be eligible to vie for party presidency. But if the convention is held before December 2010, then someone within the MMD system is trying to cut me off. However, I am a democrat, I will simply say no!
Since you have disqualified me, I am not going to participate in the MMD presidency, and that I am going to stand down. I am a democrat and I believe in the law and should actually be adhered to. Yes, I am not gonna go with my candidature,” Prof Chirwa said.
Asked further whether he would join other parties such as UPND or PF in an event that he is barred in the MMD, Prof Chirwa said he was not prepared to be jumping from one party to another.
“No! I will remain MMD. I have made up my decision to be an MMD member and I am going to work hard with anybody in the party because I have more respect to this party,” Prof Chirwa said.
And Prof Chirwa said he met Hichilema and Sata because he believed in politics of development and dialogue.
“When I met Honourable Hichilema and Honourable Sata, it was because they are citizens of Zambia, because they are also contributing to this country. I am not yet an MMD president, I am just a candidate and therefore there is nothing wrong meeting fellow Zambians. I actually met citizens of Zambia who according to the bill of rights in our Constitution allows everybody to meet anyone whether being a foreigner or not. And I met them on that particular basis,” Prof Chirwa said.
He said it was wrong for President Mwanawasa to suggest that he was planning to merge MMD with the opposition.
“I am not in office yet, I am just a university professor at the moment. So, I am allowed to meet anybody so that I learn one or two things from them. And doing that as an expert in learning is extremely important, really it’s very important for me to understand how our country is being portrayed to other people from different perspectives as well as in the opposition eyes,” he said.
Prof Chirwa said he would continue to meet people countrywide in an effort to identify problems they were facing.
“It’s not about merging with others at all. It’s all about learning from others, especially those who have contributed a lot to this country. These people are Zambians and being in the opposition is not a disqualification to an extent that they should not even be greeted,” said Prof Chirwa.