Friday, January 08, 2010
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 08 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba has said he takes responsibility over George Mpombo and he is carefully handling his matter.
During a press briefing on Wednesday at the MMD secretariat, journalists sought to know whether the party was exercising double standards by expelling some members without giving them an opportunity to be heard, suspending others while Mpombo had continued speaking freely. In response, Kalumba said he was a responsible leader who was handling matters carefully.
“I take responsibility for honourable Mpombo, and I take responsibility in the sense that I am careful in balancing, as I have said we are trying to build a party that knows how to balance certain issues. I’m not an irresponsible leader,” Kalumba said.
“Honourable Mpombo is a member of parliament who holds a constituency, I have to consult carefully with the constituents of Kafulafuta, and when they tell me that they have made certain decisions, I will listen to them. Double standards perhaps, but that’s the nature of politics that you have to be careful and strategic.
“It depends from what vantage point you stand. You can call it double standards, but I’m calling it responsible leadership, balancing the interests of our party.”
On the ongoing debate on statutory regulation of the media, Kalumba said MMD national executive committee (NEC) members expected to meet their colleagues in Cabinet over the issue to understand the government’s position.
“We know what our party position is. According to our party constitution, we know what status we are ascribed to the media, and particularly to freedom of expression and freedom of the media. I think our position has been very clear,” Kalumba said.
“If we believe in a democratic society, a society founded on democratic principles, the promotion of democracy and the rule of law, observance and protection of human rights and freedoms, there is no reason why we should not respect the freedoms that we have enshrined in our national Constitution, about the media.”
Kalumba said there was need for dialogue between those in the media and the government.
He said the government was an institution that was influenced by reasoned opinion.
“Reasoned opinion is the most effective weapon you have. Insults are not the most effective instruments, people feel undermined when they are insulted instead of being reasoned with,” Kalumba said.
“So I hope that you can exercise yourselves to present as I have seen, some of you have been trying, your position as to how you think you can instill the sense of confidence in the proposals of schemes of revelations that you are proposing to the government.”
Asked if the government was being hypocritical by coming up with a bill since they had earlier asked the media to come up with a self regulatory mechanism, Kalumba said he would like to hear government’s side to know
“As a party we do take independent positions. If you recall on the constitutional commission issue, there were differences between what our colleagues believed in government and what we believed, but the best way to handle it is that we come together, discuss it,” Kalumba said. “We sat with president Mwanawasa and we resolved our misunderstanding on various aspects of the constitution, including 50 per cent plus one.”
Kalumba said the job of the party was to help the government to listen to the interests of the general public.
“Listen to the broader interests, that perhaps go beyond the corridors of the offices of power. That is why we registered as a civil body outside government. We are not in government, but as a political party that has sponsored this particular government in power, we have an interest in protecting them from injury, if we see that there is injury,” Kalumba said.
“But it depends on reasoned interaction, we would like to give government, our colleagues an opportunity to educate us as to their reasoning. I am sure they would like to see us support them on the floor of Parliament depending on whatever bill comes to the floor.
“We have had bills brought to the floor, but as a result of debate, there are some bills that have had to be altered. So let’s not be conclusive.”
Kalumba said those that made laws had an obligation to listen.
“Just as we have an obligation to express ourselves,” said Kalumba.