Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rupiah meets Mpezeni

Rupiah meets Mpezeni
By George Chellah
Wed 20 Apr. 2011, 04:01 CAT [2441 Reads, 0 Comment(s)]

President Rupiah Banda has summoned Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people in Eastern Province to make peace with him following reports that the paramount chief is now in the habit of making negative statements about the head of state.

Well-placed sources revealed yesterday that Mpezeni travelled from Chipata on Sunday and met President Banda at State House the following day.

“This was a very secret trip for Mpezeni. He was phoned by Dickson Jere who informed him that the President wanted to meet with him to discuss reports that Inkosi is now publicly making very negative statements about the President,” the source said.

“So the meeting took place on Monday at State House around 17:00 hours. But what emerged in the meeting was that actually Inkosi is not against the President. He told the President that actually what was of concern to him and the people in Eastern Province was the perceived sour relationship between the President and honourable Lameck Mangani.”

The source said Mpezeni told President Banda that the people have failed to appreciate the reason for his differences with Mangani and now fear that this could cost the MMD in Eastern Province.

“He said it will be suicidal for us to go for elections with a divided province because Hon Mangani has a lot of influence and following in the province, not just in Chipata,” the source said.

“This whole Mangani issue worsened after the party convention in Kabwe early this month. Most people from Eastern Province who attended the convention realised how honourable Mangani was mistreated by the President. You guys have been writing that the President attempted to block Sylvia Masebo from contesting at the convention. Masebo is not the only one the President didn’t want. There was what was called ‘the preferred list’ and a number of people he didn’t want. But the two most hated on his list were Hon Mangani and Masebo.

“Before the results were announced, the President was informed that both Masebo and honourable Mangani were headed for victory. So an urgent meeting was convened. In attendance were Dickson Jere, the President’s political advisor Dr Chigunta, VJ Mwaanga and a Dr Mtonga. In this meeting, VJ is reported to have advised that it would be inappropriate to make both Mangani and Masebo lose because people could suspect something.

“The President said ‘it’s ok Masebo can go ahead, I will just deal with her later but something should be done about Mangani’. That’s why you probably heard that delegates to the convention protested when it was announced that there was going to be a two-hour break after voting at 16:00 hours before counting could commence at 18:00 hours. All election agents were told to leave the polling centre apart from security personnel. So Hon Mangani knew about his losing before counting was done.”

The source said most delegates from Eastern Province were very upset and talking continued after they returned to their various stations.

“I am sure it must have been from this point of view that Mpezeni must have been complaining because Angela Cifire who is very close to him (Mpezeni) is also not wanted by President Banda. The President only preferred Dora Siliya, Peter Daka and Maxwell Mwale. Even Dr Kazonga contested without blessings from the President although he won. But these are cowards, so he can’t complain. In fact, I will not be surprised to hear him say he was supported by the President,” the source said.

“But these issues are very well known in Eastern Province to the point that some senior government officials advised the President when he travelled to Chipata just after the convention that he should handle honourable Mangani with care otherwise MMD could lose the grip in the province. Most people in the province also know that as a result of this advice, President Banda said for now he will try to make peace and work with honourable Mangani just for the purpose of winning elections. After the elections, the President intends to either frustrate or dump honourable Mangani. As for Masebo, we are not sure what his plans are now that honourable Mpombo has exposed the fact that the President didn’t want her in his NEC.”

The source said President Banda was preparing for one of his sons to replace Mangani in Chipata Central Constituency.

“If plans for his son fail, the alternative is Professor Patrick Mvunga. Robinson Zulu is thinking twice after you exposed his land deal with NAPSA,” the source said.

“That is why you see that lately, each time the President travels to Eastern Province, he includes Professor Mvunga in his delegation. I hope honourable Mangani is not too blind to see all these machinations because these politicians sometimes can easily be misled not knowing that the President is just following advice for him to normalise relations.”

The source further said Mangani was just a victim of circumstances because the main issue was between paramount chief Gawa Undi and President Banda.

“I will not elaborate this point because the President knows that there are issues between him and Gawa Undi. Gawa Undi is principled and so he is not gullible. The President can succeed in tossing around or manipulating Mpezeni who is unprincipled, not Gawa Undi,” the source said.

“But because honourable Mangani is very close to Gawa, he is the grass that is suffering when the two elephants are fighting. Those who know the issues will understand what I’m talking about.”

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