Friday, August 22, 2008

Dipak rules out Rupiah

Dipak rules out Rupiah
By Chibaula Silwamba and Amos Malupenga
Friday August 22, 2008 [04:00]

Rupiah Banda is far from what President Levy Mwanawasa had in mind for a successor, former commerce minister Dipak Patel said yesterday. And Patel said in his opinion, finance minister Ng'andu Magande was the most suited candidate. Meanwhile, the opposition UPND yesterday said it had learnt with disbelief that the ruling MMD was scheming to amend the Zambian Constitution to enable Banda to continue ruling without going for a presidential by-election following President Mwanawasa's death.

Reacting to MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba's statement that there are no two ways for the MMD but to automatically pick Vice-President Rupiah Banda as its presidential candidate when a presidential by-election is called, Patel said Vice-President Banda was a nice person but far from what President Mwanawasa had in mind for a successor.

Patel said there were important distinctions between leadership succession and the recruitment of leaders.

“Succession is a process that involves the assumption or transference of leadership from one person or group to another,” Patel said. “How successful, peaceful or effective such an assumption or transference might be will depend on the relevant laws, historical experiences, norms and cultural traditions of the peoples concerned as well as the existential circumstances. Where the laws and traditions are observed, the succession is likely to occur.

In general, leadership succession in post-independence Africa has tended to be a product of crude political manipulations, rebellions or military coups rather that the peaceful application of the constitutional process.”

Patel said this was due, partly, to the fact that constitutionalism is not well-founded in Africa and partly due to the primacy of politics. He said the constitution provided basic foundations for legitimacy of the government to rule and the people's rights to demand accountability and transparency from the government.

Patel said the constitutions of all African countries virtually make provisions for the establishment and maintenance of accountability and transparency but that it was the manner in which those systems had performed which was problematic.

“This deficiency in constitutionalism is one of the major contributory factors to bad governance in Africa,” Patel said. “Politics is a struggle for power. In a democracy, the struggle takes place within a competitive framework regulated by rules, principles, norms and conventions. In much of African politics is personalised and transformed into a means of acquiring personal wealth and power, thus those in power and position of leadership do all they can to keep others out.”

Patel said such people ignore the democratic principle, norms and conventions. He said in Africa, politics ceases to be a properly organised competitive struggle for power; it becomes simply a struggle between those who have the power and want to keep it and those who wish to take it away from them and use it for their own personal benefits.

“Hence the struggle between leader resolve itself into one for the price of power and not as a competition for better policies and solutions to the peoples' problems,” Patel said. “And this is what we must at all costs avoid in the MMD. Some of the fundamental legacies of President Mwanawasa are the observance of the rule of law, the fight against corruption and empowerment of our citizens.

Keeping this in mind, I was shocked to hear from some very senior people in government and the MMD talk about a possibility of amending the Constitution that would allow Vice-President Rupiah Banda to continue as President till 2011. This is not only absurd but dangerous.”

Patel said the Constitution of Zambia clearly defines what should happen when a Republican president dies. He said in this case, Zambians are expecting to go for presidential polls on or before November 17, 2008.

“As to who could be a potential presidential candidate, there are only a few in the MMD who could satisfy the necessary qualities that are required,” Patel said. “President Mwanawasa had always been very clear about it - no corrupt person should succeed him and he was also desirous of a generational change. I had last met him on April 8, 2008 at his office. It seemed to me from the conversation we had that he wanted to make a major reshuffle of Cabinet soon after the AU summit and also make public his choice.

Even though he had never made public his preferred candidate, he had made up his mind. I have no doubt whatsoever that the first lady is aware of his choice, as would few others. So when I heard my friend Tetamashimba speak on Radio QFM, it is very far from what President Mwanawasa Mwanawasa had in mind, for even though Rupiah Banda is a good man, he does not represent a generational change.

In my humble opinion, the most suited candidate for our times today and the future is Ng'andu Peter Magande. He has all the important attributes - credibility, integrity, vision and is passionate about the good Zambians and Zambia can do and achieve, and together with President Mwanawasa has put Zambia on course for rapid economic growth. He is not corrupt, he does not stand for nonsense, he is not a tribalist and he believes in One Zambia, One Nation.”

Responding to a question from a QFM Radio presenter during a special programme on which Zambians were passing messages of condolences on the death of President Mwanawasa on Wednesday, Tetamashimba said it would be very difficult for the MMD to choose a candidate to stand in the elections outside acting President Banda.

The presenter had asked Tetamashimba if some confusion was expected in MMD, looking at the power-hungry people in the party.
In his response, Tetamashimba said President Mwanawasa had indicated that he would not support a corrupt person or a thief as MMD candidate in the 2011 elections, and that was still the position for the MMD.

“First and foremost, yes, I can say that there could be some people and there are some people who took advantage of the President's sickness while in Paris.

They were going round and so on and so forth and I think Honourable Lameck Chibombamilimo came out and spoke about it,” Tetamashimba said. “But I can assure you that President Mwanawasa said that in 2011 he will not campaign for an MMD candidate if that person will be a plunderer, he will be a corrupt person. That is what he told us. And that message is still there up to today. We are not going to allow thieves, we are not going to allow corrupt people to take over the MMD.

The MMD now; we have no acting president in MMD, we have no acting vice-president in MMD, we only have a chairman who constitutionally has no mandate to act as president or act as vice-president of the party. But our friends in Cabinet through the constitutional provisions and through the decision of President Mwanawasa himself, he appointed His Honour the Vice-President to act as President until he returns.

Unfortunately, the passing on of the President is not going to make him return in the form he could take over power and I think that for now we have an acting President who I believe is supposed to be sworn in as we go through all these things. And when he is sworn in as acting President, I don't know but as a politician I can tell you that it will be very difficult for the MMD to choose another candidate to stand in the elections outside RB.”

Tetamashimba said the moment Vice-President Banda is sworn in as acting Republican President, it should be automatic for the ruling party to allow him to stand and then choose somebody who would help him to campaign in the by-elections.

“I have been told that the PF and UPND have been trying to think of how to have an alignment to defeat the MMD and they started doing that two days before the President died,” Tetamashimba said. “But I can assure you that Zambians are saying people should do what President Mwanawasa was doing in terms of the economic activities and so on.”

Meanwhile, UPND chairperson for legal Jack Mwiimbu yesterday said they were aware that MMD was trying to amend the Republican Constitution to allow Vice-President Banda to continue in power from where President Mwanawasa ended without going through an election. Mwiimbu said that was undemocratic and tantamount to canceling the forthcoming presidential by-election in total disregard of the Constitution.

Mwiimbu said at the time, the nation wanted to mourn President Mwanawasa with respect and dignity.

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At 6:30 PM , Blogger MrK said...

The former Finance Minister backs the present Finance Minister? Interesting. :)


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