IT’S NONSENSE to expect us to support the President if he does not fire Davies Chama, Mumbi Phiri and Chishimba Kambwili because they insulted us, says chief Macha. But Kambwili has defied President Lungu’s directive to all government officials to desist from making comments on the tribal matter and says the chiefs are making an unreasonable demand and that if they feel his warning against secession talks was an insult, “So be it”.
Commenting on the state-owned newspapers’ report that the 26 chiefs resolved to back President Lungu and that they have called on citizens to respect those in authority, chief Macha wondered how people would be expected to respect leaders who insult. “That’s nonsense, we never said that. It is not true and it’s nonsense to expect that we will just support him even if he does not fire those who insulted us. Stop even talking about it, that was not there,” said chief Macha angrily.
“Listen, I am saying that’s not what we said. All we said was us [chiefs] we refuse to be insulted. And those that insulted us, fire them. We said we don’t want to be insulted; we are elderly people. You [President Lungu] go and tell those people that are insulting us because they are destroying your name, they are interested in your position, that’s why they are speaking like that. And to show that you [President Lungu] are not part of those sentiments, fire them. That’s what we told him.” Chief Sinazongwe said traditional leaders gave President Lungu time to remove PF secretary general Chama, his deputy Phiri and Kambwili, the chief government spokesperson. “How can you respect someone who insulted you? We did not agree like that, but we left everything in the hands of the President and chief Haamusonde who is our chairman. We told him [chief Haamusonde] to tell reporters that the issue had remained in the hands of the President, who will tell us what action he will take,” chief Sinazongwe said. He said there was no way the chiefs would have gone into a meeting with President Lungu without making their demands clear. “You can’t call for a meeting and keep quiet without saying anything, then why did you call the President for a meeting? We complained because there was no action taken and we waited for a month for the President to take action against his people because those are not our traditional cousins. Call chief Haamusonde to explain to you our demands; we didn’t just sit, no! We can’t leave our homes and keep quiet,” said chief Sinazongwe. Chief Chikanta said: “We expressed our feelings to him so it is up to him to act. As chiefs, we are not divided and we talked about this thing all of us through a representative. We are talking the same language, so we are expecting President Lungu to do what he can do. We gave him our position.” But Kambwili told Hot FM Radio that the chiefs were making unreasonable demands. “It is a very unreasonable demand. First and foremost, what have I told them myself? All I said was that they can go ahead with the meeting but they should not discuss secession and if they will discuss secession, we’ll arrest them and I stand by those words,” said Kambwili. “And if that means an insult, so be it, if advising people not to commit a criminal offence is an insult, I was only telling them not to commit an offence.” Before travelling to Livingstone for the meeting, President Lungu gave a directive to all ministers as well as party officials to desist from commenting on the matter. “All ministers, PF senior officials and party functionaries must cease all forms of commentary on the matter and resist any temptation to mobilise and galvanise on grounds of ethnicity, religion, creed and all other illiberal values that may pose a real danger to Zambia’s social cohesion,” directed President Lungu through a press statement.