NANCY SIAME and CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka
ZAMBIANS should scrutinise leadership credentials of politicians aspiring to rule Zambia but go to foreign lands to discredit the same country they aspire to lead, President Lungu has said.
The President says Zambians should be patriotic and discuss whatever issues they have within their country and not from foreign states.
He was speaking to journalists at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport yesterday shortly before he left for Swaziland, where he will be guest of honour at the monarch’s international trade fair today.
“People will judge for themselves. The Bembas say ‘ubufumu buchindika abene’,” (loosely meaning leadership respects itself) he said.
President Lungu was commenting on United Party for National Development leader Hakainde Hichilema’s attacks on Zambia’s leadership, the Judiciary and the Legislature on Thursday in South Africa.
The head of State said Zambians should respect the sovereignty of the country.
“If you don’t respect the sovereignty of your country, no one will respect you,” he said.
Mr Hichilema, in the company of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, alleged that the Judiciary was controlled by the Executive and also made reference to some of his party members who were acquitted by the courts of law.
UPND vice-president Geoffrey Mwamba, party members Sylvia Masebo and Obvious Mwaliteta and others have recently been acquitted by the courts of law but Mr Hichilema sees no independence in the Judiciary.
Asked about where the attacks leave dialogue between him and Mr Hichilema, President Lungu wondered whether goodwill dialogue could take place in such an environment.
President Lungu, however, said he is ready to dialogue with anyone who wants to meet him on issues of governance and how to bring harmony in the country.
Meanwhile, Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue executive director Monica Kanjimana said it is disappointing and saddening that Mr Hichilema can denounce the Judiciary.
“It’s very sad that Mr Hichilema decided to go abroad to denounce the Judiciary instead of airing his grievances through established channels in Zambia.
“We are very disappointed that the opposition leader, who was barely three days ago at church promising to dialogue and promote reconciliation, decided to go to another country to say the opposite.
“We are strongly opposed to his behaviour of disparaging state institutions, especially using international media platforms.
“Our leaders should learn to use home-grown solutions for their problems. Mr Hichilema should have quietly confided in various stakeholders here in Zambia before going abroad. He must have confidence in our state institutions,” Ms Kanjimana said.
And South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) analyst on African Affairs Izak Khomo has condemned politics being practised by Mr Hichilema and South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.
Mr Khomo, a journalist, accused the two opposition leaders of being pawns of imperialist forces in Africa.
He said on Thursday during an interview on SABC that institutions of democracy in Zambia are intact, contrary to Mr Hichilema and Mr Maimane’s assertions that they are under a dictatorship.
Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba advised Mr Hichilema to be patriotic and stop tarnishing Zambia’s image abroad.
Mr Mwamba said on Thursday when he featured on South Africa’s eNCA television station that the Zambian mission will not sit idly by and watch Mr Hichilema discredit Zambia.
University of Zambia lecturer, researcher and political analyst Alex Ng’oma said Mr Hichilema has “shot himself in the foot” by denouncing the Judiciary.
“Mr Hichilema’s behaviour risks jeopardising the peace and dialogue gains we have achieved so far. The international community will laugh at us because of his unpatriotic utterances. He leaves us wondering whether he is really committed to promoting dialogue or not,” he said.
Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes executive director Boniface Chembe said there is need for the Commonwealth and Government to expedite the dialogue between Mr Hichilema and President Lungu.
“All Zambians are expected to be patriotic and the awaited dialogue must be convened to prevent these issues,” Mr Chembe said.
Foundation for Democratic Process executive director Chimfwembe Mwenge said Mr Hichilema has a mandate to uphold patriotism and it was wrong for him to demean State institutions.
Patriotic Front media director Sunday Chanda said it is sad that Mr Hichilema chose to go to a foreign country to speak ill of Zambia, which he claims to love.
Mr Chanda said in a statement that UPND members should be wary of Mr Hichilema’s “self-serving” leadership style.
PF member Edwin Lifwekelo said it is hypocritical and unfair for Mr Hichilema to accuse President Lungu of being a dictator.
Former UPND vice-president Canisius Banda said it is unfortunate that Mr Hichilema chose to discredit the country he aspires to lead.
Dr Banda said politicians and all Zambians must be goodwill ambassadors and market the country instead of speaking ill of it.
New Congress Party president Peter Chanda said Mr Hichilema’s behaviour is a clear indication that cannot be entrusted with the Presidency.
MMD spokesperson Raphael Nakacinda said Mr Hichilema has exhibited high levels of political immaturity by disparaging State institu-tions in foreign land.