Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rupiah’s security annoys ‘job seekers’

Rupiah’s security annoys ‘job seekers’
Written by Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday, November 29, 2008 4:19:45 PM

MMD 'job seekers' on Thursday night protested after their fellow party member who allegedly purported to be a security personnel for President Rupiah Banda blocked them from shaking hands with the President on his arrival from Nigeria. And President Banda said he was not very happy that some MMD members were rushing to advocate for him to become party president, barely a month after being elected Republican President.

The MMD cadres, who shouted that they were looking for jobs, were angered when an MMD member, whom they identified as Musonda blocked them from shaking hands with President Banda. The cadres, complained on top of their voices, soon after President Banda's motorcade left the airport.

Some prominent MMD members who were at the scene of the incident were Kabwata party chairman Chilekwa Munkonge, former presidential minister Webby Chipili and MMD choir members, among many others.

According to an audio recording, the cadres were heard saying they were looking for jobs.

"Twalefwaya inchito palya. [What we wanted were jobs]," the cadres shouted.

"Who is he? Ba Munkonge, let him tell us which constituency he belongs to. Why did he cut the line [queue]? We have been here from 14:00 hours up to now [22:00hours]. We wanted to greet our President. We all wanted to greet our President. People wanted to greet their President. There is no way..."

The cadres demanded that Musonda should not be allowed at the airport again or else they would beat him up.

"We don't want him and you should tell him that he should be coming to the airport with your permission. Next time we will beat him. We will tell ama youths bakamwikatefye nokumupuma," the cadres randomly shouted. "Where is he going to work?"

One official assured the cadres that he would personally complain to President Banda.
"This is not the way to treat party members. We all want jobs," the official said.

However, some cadres further demanded that their leaders inform President Banda about the incident.

"Can you put something in writing? You are the only person who can decide who is going to greet the President or not. Give him a warning. He is undermining your authority," the cadres shouted.

The cadres continued complaining as they walked from the runway to the VIP car park.

An MMD member Anthony Mumba, who was one of the people protesting, later said the cadres were upset because Musonda had blocked them from shaking hands with President Banda.

Mumba wondered why Musonda stopped the cadres from shaking hands with President Banda when in fact the state security personnel had screened and cleared them, a proof that they were not a danger to the President.

"The President's security personnel have put in place security measures to ensure that the President is safe. So who is he to stop the party members from shaking hands with our President?" asked Mumba.

Earlier responding to questions from The Post upon arrival from Abuja in Nigeria where he had gone for a two-day official visit, President Banda said he was not very happy that some MMD members were advocating for him to ascend to the party Presidency, this early.

"I don't know why people are rushing to this thing, I have just been elected President of the country I still have a lot of work to do with my colleagues," President Banda said. "I think that the party issues should not be brought to the public to discuss so early. I am not very happy about that, I must be honest."

MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba, among several party members, was demanding that the MMD National Executive Committee (NEC) should elect President Banda as party vice-president and subsequently elect him as president at the national convention.

President Banda also said the government was working hard to uphold the economy and increase the tax base to ensure that the lives of Zambians become normal again.

"You know we are going through a lot of problems that is why I like your question, so that we understand what is happening in our country. You know the prices of copper and other metals have gone down. There are many problems that we are facing as a country and we don't manipulate the exchange rate as you know, it finds its own levels," he said.

"But that is why we are working very hard to make sure that we have alternative things to do to uphold our economy and to increase the tax base so that our lives can become normal again. The price of copper has gone down from US$ 8,000 to below US$ 4,000. These are the reasons for that."

About his trip, President Banda said: "The trip was well, we were very well received and we are very happy that we went there."

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