Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sata tells Mwamba off
By Moses Kuwema
Tue 29 Oct. 2013, 14:01 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata yesterday told former information and broadcasting services permanent secretary Emmanuel Mwamba not to use the ministry to fight his own political battles. And Mwamba has since been transferred to Cabinet Office in the same capacity and has been replaced by Wamunyima Muwana.

Speaking at State House before a Cabinet meeting, President Sata told Mwamba to cease being a civil servant if he wanted to engage in political battles.

"Don't use my ministry to fight your own political battles. Go outside, stand on a platform and we can meet you on the ground. Don't use my government. You are supposed to protect the people," he said.

President Sata further castigated Mwamba for issuing nationwide radio licences to privately-owned radio Phoenix and Qfm. He asked Mwamba if he knew why the previous governments did not issue nationwide coverage of radio stations apart from ZNBC.

"You thought all of us are very stupid, you thought all the people who died for independence are very stupid. You come, you are Mr Emmanuel Mwamba, you give national coverage to all of them so that Mr HH UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema can now go and stand on Radio Phoenix and Mr Mwamba is just smiling. Mr commerce minister Emmanuel Chenda have you seen? You are sitting here, the people who are killing the young people, they are the young people you bring. Can you tell me the justification, Mr Mwamba?"

And Mwamba responded: "Yes, Your Excellency. I found on my table when you brought me to this ministry, applications that have been pending since 2011. The ministry sought an opinion from the Attorney General and…"

But President Sata interjected him, saying: "Mr Mwamba, you said 2011, this is 2013. The files have been pending and because you are so intelligent, all the previous permanent secretaries are so stupid. You are the only intelligent one."

Mwamba apologised and tried to justify his action, saying that his predecessor Amos Malupenga had approved the first 10 licences.
President Sata told Mwamba that apart from the missionaries, there was need to be careful before giving out nationwide coverage to privately-owned radio stations.

"You have to salute honourable Edgar Lungu. The reason why the previous administration only left ZNBC was to protect the integrity of this nation. And you know it very well since you have been permanent secretary. You know it very well where you are, a person from outside Zambia has bought shares in Radio Phoenix and there you are. Did you consult?" asked President Sata.

The President continued: "Mr Chenda have you seen? The boys came yesterday; they were not there when people were fighting for independence. They come to mess up what people fought for. According to Mr Mwamba, that's the celebration of 49 years of independence. What people died for, Mr Mwamba comes and says 'No! No! Give Radio Phoenix national wide coverage'. And those are the boys you recommend that let's promote them. Mr Mwamba, is that what we fought for?"

And Radio Phoenix proprieter Errol Hickey told his radio station that he was disappointed with President Sata's statement because he had offered equal and balanced coverage to news sources.

And speaking to journalists later before he got wind of his transfer, Mwamba said the directive from the President on the issuance of nationwide licences would be followed to the letter.

He said the licensing committee would convene a meeting and review the directive from President Sata.

"It is clear that the missionaries such as Catholic TV and Radio Christian Voice might be the only one that would remain with ZNBC on national wide. The others, I think concerns have been raised and have been brought to our attention. The clear directive from the President will be followed," he said.

Asked for a comment on President Sata's statement that he should not use the Ministry of Information to fight his own political battles, Mwamba opted to refer to the guidance given to Vice-President Dr Guy Scott and finance minister Alexander Chikwanda on the importation of secondhand motor vehicles and the removal of excise duty on copper concentrates.

"The President gave a lot of guidance in today's Cabinet. The guidance came to His Honour the Vice-President, the Minister of Finance and specifically to myself. This is wise counsel from the President; he is our leader. It is our duty to ensure that we work in the professional space that we have been given to enhance his image and that of government and the country in order to protect the independence of the country. I take the wise counsel sufficiently and will follow as directed by the President," Mwamba said.

Meanwhile, according to a statement by special assistant to the President for press and public relations George Chellah, President Sata has with immediate effect appointed Muwana as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services, while Mwamba has been transferred to Cabinet Office in the same capacity.

President Sata wished the duo success and God's blessings as they serve the nation in their assignments.

Prior to his appointment, Muwana was Zambia News Information Services assistant director technical services.

Muwana has served ZANIS for over 22 years, rising through the ranks to the position of assistant director.

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