MIKE Mulongoti says State House press aide Amos Chanda should allow competent people to comment on economic issues.
And Mulongoti says Chanda is cheating himself to think that he can demean everybody now that he is working at State House because nothing has changed about his qualifications.
Meanwhile, Mulongoti says people commenting on the country’s economy will not go and read economics again because they have sufficient knowledge to comment on governance issues.
Commenting on Chanda’s statement that President Edgar Lungu’s critics on Zambia’s economy should go and read economics again, Mulongoti, who is People’s Party president, said the Head of State would become an ‘orphan’ once he is out of power because he is surrounded by wrong people.
“Remind him (Chanda) that he was once a clerk in the ministries where we served. Nothing has changed and he has not risen to a level where he has overtaken the positions we held in the government. For him to think he can demean everybody, he is cheating himself. Mr Chanda is behaving as if he has been to all the universities in the world and that he is the carrier of knowledge from these universities. Professor Oliver Saasa, who was on Muvi TV’s Assignment spoke at length on these matters. I do not know whether Mr Chanda is saying that he is much more knowledgeable than Prof Saasa over these matters,” Mulongoti said.
“He is trying to assume knowledge over things that he is not very competent [in]. This is why he is opening criticism to himself. I do not think that Mr Chanda holds the portfolio of mining. There is a portfolio holder called the Minister of Mines. The minister appointed in that portfolio carries that authority delegated to him by that appointment and is recognised by the Constitution. So if there is anybody who must speak about issues to do with mining, it must be the Minister of Mines, unless the Minister of Mines has requested the chief government spokesperson to speak for him.”
Mulongoti said the Constitution recognised the authority of a minister and not a press secretary or press assistant.
“It is lack of etiquette that a Cabinet minister can be sitting attending to a press conference being addressed by a press assistant. It is breach of protocol. I saw a bewildered minister, Vincent Mwale, sitting there watching like an outsider. He is deputy chief government spokesperson from what I know. But surely, a press secretary cannot supersede him. Protocol does not allow that. When there is a superior and a junior, the superior must speak and not the junior speaking while the senior is watching. They are demeaning the role and authority of Cabinet ministers,” he said.
Mulongoti said the PF government was causing Zambians a lot of embarrassment.
“We are not going back to read economics. Remind him that we will not go back to read economics because we are sufficiently equipped to comment on issues and the state because we have practiced governance before and we are still very alive to the challenges and because we are part of this country and want progress but not by having characters like him (Chanda) who thinks he is an embodiment of knowledge on behalf of all of us,” he said.
On Chanda’s statement that the figures projected in the media on the mine job losses were wrong, Mulongoti said it was pointless for Chanda to defend statistics that do not tell a lie.
“He must know that the mining companies are not restrained from talking to anybody else other than President Edgar Lungu. They have got people inside their companies; they have got friends within the country and outside. They have their own investors who have pumped in money in the mines and would want to know what is happening. When information comes that this is what is happening, he should not argue because our friends are telling us that people are receiving letters from the mines about termination of their employment,” Mulongoti said.
“What he should do is to tell his bosses to address this issue in a very responsible manner by engaging the mines quietly if solutions are not yet found, instead of rushing to the press themselves. He even says he cannot leak these things because they are under discussion and that they are confidential; what is he saying there? He doesn’t seem to know what he is talking about. Let him leave those issues to people who have been appointed to hold office and be in charge of those portfolios.”
On Chanda’s statement that it would be irresponsible for the government to make direct interventions to pull the kwacha up and down, Mulongoti said State House should not be the one to be in the forefront of issuing statements on economic issues unless the President was making a policy pronouncement on behalf of Cabinet
“Unless he himself is so forgetful that he talked about intervention in the foreign exchange market by pumping into the economy about US$120million when he was on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview. He told the nation that and we know that they pumped in more than that but it was swallowed. This is what we told them before, that that kind of intervention will not help; it is a short-term thing, which has not helped. So beginning to deny that we saw the hopelessness of the whole intervention is not fair to the people of Zambia,” he said.
Mulongoti said Chanda should allow the Bank of Zambia and the Ministry of Finance to issue statements over the kwacha.
And Mulongoti said the people surrounding President Lungu were causing him much embarrassment.
“He will learn later as his friends have learnt who were there before him. Some of the people surrounding him can be very treacherous; they will run away. Not long ago, this gentleman who likes saying ‘sindine mwana wa nyoko’ was telling us that all the people that surrounded him abandoned him except for two who remained. Mr Lungu will wake up one day to discover that that is what those people can do. They are close to him now because he is in power. Let him walk out of there, he will see how he will become an orphan,” he said.
Mulongoti said President Lungu’s decision to cling to ‘characters’ that are not helping the presidency is a bad reflection on him.
He said there were sufficient Zambians with integrity and good reputations who would respect him and the presidency.