WYNTER Kabimba says the Patriotic Front is mobilising against finance minister Felix Mutati because the MMD faction leader has refused to channel public funds to the ruling party. And Kabimba says it President Edgar Lungu is man enough, he should face Mutati and tell him to resign “instead of using cheap routes to oust him out of government”.
PF cadres in Eastern, Northern, Central, and North-Western provinces have, over the past weeks, been protesting against Mutati, questioning his loyalty to the Head of State. President Lungu, in response to the cadres’ demands the same day the protests started, said he would hear their complaints against his finance minister.
Sources have disclosed that Mutati’s refusal to channel some of the public funds being mobilized through loans to PF activities was what caused the protests against him.
“Look, all these protests you are seeing are being financed by State House because this man (Mutati) doesn’t want to put government money into PF activities. That will be total theft; how will the money be accounted for? It is a pity that all this is happening and the people here (State House) are so against him and they are taking everything very personal,” the source said.
“If you recall, that time when ba Sata died and Guy [Scott] was acting President, H.E’s (Lungu’s) camp was so against him because he refused to give them government money for campaigns. That’s where the rivalry started from between H.E and Guy and you will see the same thing with Mutati. Unfortunately, he is not bold enough to tell him to step aside or to fire him; he is doing it through the cadres. Most people I am sure are wondering why his association with MMD should an issue now when he made it clear during campaigns and after his appointment that he would continue to be MMD.”
And Kabimba, the Rainbow Party general secretary, said in an interview that President Lungu, his aides and PF members wanted Mutati out of government because the ruling party had become too corrupt.
He said Mutati would not support PF’s corrupt activities.
“If Mutati, for some reason, has fallen out of favour with Edgar, the most honourable thing to do and this is…the problem of African leaders…the most honourable thing to do if you are a proper leader is for him to call Mutati, engage him and tell him ‘listen, our love affair has come to an end, give me your resignation’. I am sure Mutati has integrity enough to do Edgar a favour and offer him his resignation. He doesn’t have to go this cheap route, which he is using to oust Mutati out or to disagree with Mutati. I think it is a cheap way of doing things. I saw it myself in PF under president Michael Sata and I saw it under Guy Scott (former vice-president)…it is a cheap way of trying to deal with those you think are more honourable than you as Head of State,”
“…So, let Edgar be man enough and ask Mutati to offer his resignation and bring this kind of confusion to an end. We don’t need it. This country is poor; we need to extend our energies on productive matters. Not on cheap politics of trying to hang on to power using cheap approaches to issues. But this is also a lesson for us in the opposition as to how you get into these so called working arrangements, or alliances, pacts, whatever you may call them. These things are not just about winning an election; they are also about the integrity of those that you get into these alliances with.”
He said instead of the opposition just being excited about winning, there was need for them to understand the people they were dealing with.
“You have to ask yourself if you can work with the people you are in an alliance with in the event that you got into government…this thing has caused a lot of problems in Senegal where they had the same arrangement. It has caused a lot of problems in many African countries and I think we ought to draw lessons from those countries that alliances for the sake of alliance just disrupt government and misdirects energies into cheap politicking,”
“I think the dynamics are the same. Firstly, I was surprised to see and read one of the banners by PF cadres saying ‘We don’t want political polygamy’ referring to Mutati. Now, Mutati has never declared to be a PF member. He has always been a member of the MMD. So, he has not cheated anybody, he has not lied to anybody. He has been truthful to himself and to PF. Secondly, Edgar himself had said at one point that ‘we had a working relationship with the MMD before elections which translated into our working relationship in government.”
He said it was clear that President Lungu wanted to get rid of Mutati because he was preventing corruption in the ruling party.
“Acknowledging the fact that those members of the MMD, the likes of Mutati, Dora Siliya, Victoria Kalima…that have been given positions in government have been given those positions on the premise that they remain members of the MMD and they are in a working relationship with PF. So that is an important fact to highlight because they are trying to use that as excuse against Mutati. The other dynamic related to that is the fact that PF has become more and more corrupt. It is the likes of Mutati that are trying to resist that corruption; that I think is also is very clear, it is all about money and he is trying to prevent public funds from going to PF.”
He said there was no way PF cadres would rise and demonstrate against Mutati without the blessing of President Lungu.
“There is no way PF cadres would rise against Mutati, demonstrating against him and Lungu, as president of the party, does not put a stop to it unless he is party to that demonstration…unless he is the force behind those demonstrations. It is very clear from my experience that unless the President is party to those demonstrations, the demonstrations will not take place. So, they are taking place because Edgar is funding the demonstrations. Now, what we need to hear from him are the reasons why those demonstrations are justified against Mutati. He hasn’t come out to tell us, either to stop the demonstrations or to tell us how those demonstrations are justified against Mutati,”
“The Ministry of Finance is the second image to the outside world after the President. It’s not even the Vice-President. The Vice-President position is a non-executive position. Like I said during our era in PF, it is a chola boy’s position. It’s really no position in the eyes of the international community. Even under the running-mate thing, if you look at the Constitution, there are no functions allocated by the Constitution to the Vice-President position. So, the second epitome of the country’s image is the Minister of Finance. And that is why even under the law the Minister of Finance is the only corporate soul. All other ministers are not legal entities except for the Minister of Finance. You can sue the Minister of Finance in that position without having to sue the attorney general.”
He said demonstrations against the Minister of Finance had ramifications beyond the borders of Zambia. Kabimba said Mutati was involved in discussions and negotiations with the International Monitory Fund and the World Bank even though he did not agree with the discussions himself. He said it was Mutati who was the bridge between Zambia and the Bretton Woods institutions, not President Lungu.
“When the outside world starts seeing this kind of orchestrated demonstrations and I am sure they can lift the veil in view of the President’s silence and see that the President could be involved in these demonstrations. It disturbs their view of what type of government they are dealing with,” said Kabimba.