Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rupiah’s press conference was nauseating – Mulafulafu

Rupiah’s press conference was nauseating – Mulafulafu
By George Chellah
Sat 24 Apr. 2010, 03:40 CAT

CARITAS Zambia executive director Sam Mulafulafu yesterday said President Rupiah Banda’s recent press conference was nauseating, especially in the aspect where he took the opportunity to exalt Frederick Chiluba. Commenting on President Banda’s press conference on Tuesday in Kitwe, Mulafulafu said Chiluba now seemed to be President Banda’s role model and mentor.

“While waiting to watch a more important programme on ZNBC (football match between Barcelona and Inter Milan), Ms Juliana Mwila once again shoved on our throats a weird impromptu press conference held by President Rupiah Banda on the Copperbelt.

I am sure this is one of her tireless efforts to please the appointing authorities whom she hopes will remove the nagging ‘acting’ prefix from her title,” Mulafulafu said.

“To say the least, the Press Conference was nauseating especially in the aspect where President Banda took the opportunity to exalt Mr Chiluba who now seems to be his role model and mentor.

If Mr Banda wants to make Mr Chiluba his official advisor, he should just say so openly rather than struggling to demonstrate that a lot of good came from Mr Chiluba’s government. He should not forget that he is speaking to a nation of mainly adults who experienced the regime of Mr Chiluba for themselves.”

Mulafulafu dismissed President Banda’s claims that Chiluba brought democracy to Zambia.

“Mr Chiluba was invited to a group of advocates for political, social and economic reforms when the worst parts of the battles were already fought and the risks already taken by others.

He came at the time of power sharing and used his leverage as a trade union leader to get to the top of MMD. Mr Chiluba is not a democrat for him to have been a vehicle of democracy. One just has to look at where Zambia is today, politically, to appreciate how much ground has been lost since 1991.

To date, we can only brag about our bad political culture (full of intolerance, political corruption not issue based); we are still grappling with unending constitutional reforms (always hijacked by parochial ruling party interests); media and civil society organisations repressions are on the increase and corrupt elections have become our trade mark,” Mulafulafu said.

“All these have a root in the regime of Mr Chiluba and to date no subsequent successor has taken a bold decision to break this trend. Mr Banda himself together with his colleagues in UNIP were victims of Mr Chiluba’s political repressions.

They were incarcerated for many months in prison on tramped-up Zero Option charges just because Mr Chiluba’s obsession with power made him believe Dr Kaunda and UNIP had a chance of coming back to power. When everything failed, he orchestrated a campaign to see himself take a third term until he was stopped by Zambian citizens.

“He introduced the obnoxious NGO Bill which has now been passed as law to suppress civil society organisations and activities. Trade Unions were among his first victims when he introduced laws that led to the proliferation and split of unions. Today we have a shell of trade unionism with leaders that have betrayed their workers.

What democracy is then Mr Banda talking about that was brought by Mr Chiluba? Unless it is the old folk story of the emperor’s new clothes which only he can see.”
Mulafulafu said the sale of government, parastatal and council houses was a bad decision by Chiluba.

“I am sure this position will be controversial to those very few Zambians whom Mr Chiluba ‘sold’ houses. But if we were to look at this action from the objective point of view, there are more reasons to believe that it was a wrong and bad decision.

It was meant for cheap political popularity for Mr Chiluba and the MMD, which never really worked. This is precisely the mileage that Mr Banda is trying to gain on the Copperbelt over Itawa and Chinese compound houses and it will surely achieve the same result as it did with Mr Chiluba,” Mulafulafu said.

“Today the councils are almost collapsing because they were deprived of their major source of income. Government itself has now a big problem of accommodating its workers. In the face of low wages, one major incentive for government employees that time was availability of accommodation.

Now government workers are being routinely evicted by landlords due to non-payment of rentals. Housing allowance, little as it is, is not guaranteed and civil servants have to dig deep in their pockets from their already under nourished wages to pay rent.”

Mulafulafu said the argument that government or councils were failing to maintain those houses was all flawed.

“The capacity to maintain the houses was supposed to be the focus of intervention, not disposing the assets. The houses could have even been leased to private estate managers. One can go to most residential areas along the line of rail or in districts where these assets were sold and you will notice that most of these houses are either in the same condition or even worse.

Very few have had some value added to them. This is for a simple reason that most of them are now in the hands of retirees with no access to meaningful income. We now have a new generation of workers who are in desperate accommodation need,” Mulafulafu said.

“A more embracing policy on home ownership is what we need where most people could benefit not this paternalistic appeasement of a few people. There is nowhere in the world where municipalities don’t own property.

The so-called sale of houses itself was fraught with corruption and abuse by those in higher echelons of power. So if Mr Banda adores Mr Chiluba, he should keep those feeling to himself instead of irritating the whole nation with his undeserved praise of Mr Chiluba (sic).

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