Saturday, May 17, 2008

No u-turn on our deal with Levy, assures Sata

No u-turn on our deal with Levy, assures Sata
By Patson Chilemba and Lambwe Kachali
Saturday May 17, 2008 [04:00]

PATRIOTIC Front president Michael Sata yesterday assured that he will not U-turn on his reconciliation deal with President Levy Mwanawasa. And PF secretary general Edward Mumbi said the shift in Sata's policy regarding his reconciliation with President Mwanawasa represented the party position. Meanwhile, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) executive director Bishop Paul Mususu advised opposition political leaders not to be prophets of doom but rather support President Mwanawasa and Sata's reconciliation in the interest of political peace and unity in the country.reservations that have been expressed following his reconciliation with President Mwanawasa, Sata said the truth shall prevail over his shift in policy. Sata said he would not be drawn into commenting on people's panic over his new position.

"Those who are panicking, that's their problem and that's why we don't want to do anything," he said.

Asked about PF spokesperson Given Lubinda's statement that the party’s central committee would sit to review his new relationship with President Mwanawasa, Sata refused to comment saying Lubinda was his junior and that he had authorised Mumbi to comment on his behalf.

And Mumbi said the PF constitution empowered Sata to make decisions and then consult the central committee later. He said apart from endorsing Sata's position, the central committee would also come up with proposals that PF would present to government. Mumbi said the position PF had taken was good for the country. He said time was up for those who joined PF for the sole purpose of criticising President Mwanawasa.

"Peter Machungwa joined PF to come and fight Levy, considering he remained a suspended member until he joined PF," Mumbi said.

He further said that United Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota was not a credible politician to criticise Sata. He said Sikota made a U-turn on the UPND after he lost elections to Hakainde Hichilema.

"He's not fit. Just a few hours after losing elections, he formed ULP. Is that not a U-turn?" asked Mumbi.

Meanwhile, Bishop Mususu said it was important for politicians to realise that reconciliation was the best way of resolving differences.

Bishop Mususu said in the recent past, Zambia had been engulfed by politics of hatred and insults among political leaders, which he said was unhealthy for Zambia's economic development.

"It is said that when two elephants are fighting, it is the grass that suffers. We have witnessed this situation in our country where our political leaders have been concentrating on politics of insults at the expense of development. This has greatly affected the poor people on the ground," he said.

Bishop Mususu said after the general elections in 2006, President Mwanawasa had invited the opposition to work with the government in bringing development. He said out of anger and bitterness because of the election results, the opposition refused to work with the government.

Bishop Mususu said although the reconciliation had come at a wrong time, it was important for citizens to give it a benefit of doubt.

"Without watering down the spirit of reconciliation, it would have made greater impact if it was done before president Sata fell sick and was evacuated to South Africa by President Mwanawasa, because Zambians are now thinking that president Sata is paying back for the help he was given. So on the other hand, their reconciliation leaves some little doubts, but should be recommended," he said.

Asked whether the reconciliation could be sustained, Bishop Mususu said Sata would lose people's trust if he continued failing to live up to his words.

"If he does that, then the people of Zambia will judge him. But for now I want to believe that their reconciliation is genuine. We will cross the bridge when we get there," Bishop Mususu said. "It will be unfair for people to say that those are Mr Sata's political schemes. Human mind is able to change for the better."

However, Bishop Mususu said Sata should not stop criticising President Mwanawasa and the government because doing so would disadvantage the role of the opposition. He said reconciliation did not mean that there would be no opposing views.

He said Zambians expected the opposition to provide checks and balances to the government.

"That is the only unfortunate statement if at all Mr. Sata will do that. I urge him to rescind his decision and continue to provide checks and balances by constructively criticising the government when things are wrong," said Bishop Mususu.

And UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said he believed that it was the duty and responsibility of the opposition to constructively criticise government. Kakoma said UPND did not believe that the culture of silence and cutting deals secretly with the government should be the role of an opposition political party.
He said it would be a great idea for Sata to publicly apologise to all the leaders he called names, in the spirit of national reconciliation. Kakoma said UPND had noted with interest the alliance formed between PF and MMD.

He said it would be in the interest of unity between the two parties to formalise in writing their secret pact. Kakoma said with this new friendship, UPND would not be surprised if the MMD picked a presidential candidate from a sister party like PF.

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