Thursday, July 08, 2010

HH questions the genuineness of Rupiah’s apology

HH questions the genuineness of Rupiah’s apology
By Chibaula Silwamba and George Chellah
Thu 08 July 2010, 08:40 CAT

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema yesterday questioned the genuineness of President Rupiah Banda’s apology. And Hichilema challenged President Banda to reflect, be remorseful and extend his apology to many other Zambians and donors whom he has verbally abused and ridiculed.

Responding to President Banda’s apology following the Head of State’s questions about his wife Mutinta and whether she is a mwenye Indian last Friday, Hichilema expressed misgivings over President Banda’s apology.

“We have taken note of his apology which was communicated to the media and not to myself. If his apology is genuine, then we will have no problem accepting it. It is however, important to note that the President has been on this course for a long time and he has abused myself and many other Zambians including The Post, Chansa Kabwela Post news editor, Fr Frank Bwalya, the Catholic Church and the donors,” Hichilema said. “Now that he realizes that he has been on this course for a long time.

I am now hoping that he will apologise to the people he has offended and change his course of action and the manner he conducts himself. Otherwise, if he doesn’t apologise, his apology would be construed to be directed at our brothers and sisters, the Zambians of Asian origin as his statement in Ndola injured them.”

He said President Banda knew that his statement risked his financial support.

“His apology is only directed to repair the damage with our brothers and sisters, the Zambians of Asian origin from whom he has been drawing a lot of money,” Hichilema said. “Going forward, we hope that the President will help his Vice-President George Kunda and others who have been on a war path.”

Hichilema hoped this would be a turning point for President Banda in the way he dealt with other people.

“It is important that the President realises that there are things that ought to be discussed and there is no need to injure people who are innocent. On the basis that he realises that, I think we would take his apology, we would accept his apology,” Hichilema said.

“But the question is that if he does realise that certain things must be dealt with in a certain way, it is important that he draws his memory backwards to look at many Zambians that he has been abusing.

“The house arrest he put me under in Mufumbwe was unnecessary and I would expect that the President will realise that all of those many things that have not just been done to Hakainde’s wife, he needs to be remorseful.”

Hichilema said President Banda must also apologise to the donors over his unpalatable remarks against them.

“He needs to reflect on that. The donors may be quiet because they operate on the basis of diplomatic etiquette. It doesn’t mean they are happy and they accept to be ridiculed the way they were ridiculed and his Vice-President George Kunda joined in the ridicule,” Hichilema said.

“I hope it is a turning point on the President’s attitude towards other citizens, other colleagues including the international community, reflected through the donors. I do genuinely hope that he will see this issue as an issue that can draw a line from the way he conducted himself and through him encouraging his Vice-President George Kunda in abusing many citizens.”

Hichilema said though he could speak out against the verbal abuse that President Banda made on him, his wife and family, there were many citizens that could not defend themselves.

“There are many citizens that are locked up on trumped-up charges – the Chansa Kabwela situation. I am hoping that President Banda would also use this opportunity to look at other attacks and injuries he made on Zambians. I think it’s you who was attacked by people from MMD. All of those issues that the MMD has now grown itself into, projected by the likes of his namesake, William Banda – the brutality, the vigilante system,” Hichilema said.

“I am hoping that President Banda can reflect on all those things and use this incidence to bring a different approach on how he can relate with colleagues even those with different opinions from him. He has to apologise to many other Zambians and the international community he has abused and injured.”

Hichilema urged President Banda to abandon his attitude of bulling opponents.
“His exercising of muscles has really taken a turn in the last couple of months of his presidency, maybe even a couple of years now. It’s a sad situation. We don’t have to eliminate each other. We have different views,” Hichilema said.

“If you look at these documentaries that he has been running, the Chanda Chimba III documentaries, clearly shows that they are sponsored by the Head of State and the MMD.”

Hichilema called for issue-based politics instead of name-calling and victimisation of those with opposing views.

“Let us compete on the level playing field and civilised basis and I think that is what the Zambian people are looking for, not negative propaganda.

I am also glad that now people like MMD spokesperson and education minister Dora Siliya and chief government spokesperson Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha, who have been arguing as to who is propagating negative language and insults, I hope they will not now accuse Hakainde or Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata,” Hichilema said.

“Dora Siliya is beginning to be a person who comes out to protect President Rupiah Banda on anything even if President Banda is wrong. Now, how is Dora Siliya going to handle this matter now that the President has apologised. What will be Dora Siliya’s position? Otherwise, for me, it is good that the President has taken this step.”

Hichilema told President Banda to advise Vice-President Kunda to be civil in his conduct.

“These are the things that he has to pay particular attention about and as an extension, must also advice George Kunda to begin to behave as a Vice-President of the Republic because at the moment he doesn’t,” Hichilema said.

“One of the major lessons is to basically say that when you are Head of State, it doesn’t mean that you have an express right to abuse other people. Those citizens may have different views from you. That is how society works and those are the checks and balances that we look for when we agreed to move from one party state dictatorship of UNIP to multiparty system.”

Hichilema said President Banda must be more careful because he occupied an office, which could be used as an example by ordinary people.

On Tuesday, in a statement issued by special assistant to the President for press and public relations Dickson Jere, President Banda regretted the statement he made in Ndola in which he made reference to Hichilema’s wife and consequently brought her name into politics.

“The President said it was not his intention to bring the name of Mrs Hichilema into politics by the comments he made at Ndola International Airport when he addressed his supporters. Further, President Banda said the context in which he inadvertently used the term mwenye did not deliver the intended message,” Jere stated.

“What the President meant was that for cultural or religious reasons, some Asians do not expose their wives in public and that is understood. However, the President has realised that he should not have made that statement, which has been misconstrued.

“Nonetheless, President Banda is sorry and has regretted his statement and has unreservedly apologised to Mr Hichilema and his family.”

Jere stated that in the same vein, President Banda had also apologised to the Asian community for his statement.

“President Banda believes in equality of all races and therefore regrets that his statement has given the impression that he was a racist or against the Indian Community in Zambia. The President has, once again, unreservedly apologised to Mr Hichilema and the Asian community for the statement,” stated Jere.

Last Friday, on arrival at Ndola International Airport on Friday, President Banda said Hichilema needed to reveal a lot about himself before he could ask Zambians to vote for him as President.

“Who has even seen a picture of Hakainde’s wife in the newspaper or even a picture of him playing with his children? Why is he hiding his wife? Nimwenye? Is she an Indian?” asked President Banda.

But on Sunday, Hichilema expressed disappointment at President Banda’s racial statement and attacks on Mutinta.

“I respect all of the races but here is a President who does not respect certain races. Beyond his promotion of a tribal agenda, he is now extending this abuse into racism. An Indian is a human being,” said Hichilema.

He said his wife was never involved in politics and wondered why President Banda wanted to drag her into petty political talk.

“The President chooses to abuse my wife,” said Hichilema. “My wife and I discussed this matter this Sunday morning and we agreed that she will not respond to the President’s invitation to go and swim in the sewer pond.”

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