Works and Supply minister Mike Mulongoti has been fired.
President Rupiah Banda fired Mulongoti today for what he termed unwarranted attacks on him and vice president George Kunda.
President Banda has also revoked Mulongoti’s appointment as nominated MP. President Banda held a press briefing at Mulungushi conference centre to announce the dropping of Mulongoti. President Banda was at Mulungushi for the MMD membership renewal exercise.
Below is what Mulongoti said in today’s post newspaper.
MIKE Mulongoti says he is ready to lose his ministerial job for defending democracy in the MMD.
And well-placed sources in the MMD have disclosed that President Rupiah Banda wants George Kunda to win the MMD vice-presidency because he is more loyal than Mulongoti.
Reacting to President Banda’s support for Vice-President Kunda, MMD vice-presidency aspirant Mulongoti, who is also works and supply minister, said those who were in authority should show loyalty to those who fought to put them in power.
“I have no empirical evidence that President Banda has given instructions to endorse Kunda; it is just speculation and so I can’t vouch for that, speculation. However, you expect some gratitude from those people because, how did they come into authority in the party? Surely you expect them to show gratitude to the authorities that brought them into positions of authority,” Mulongoti said. “It is expecting too much to expect them to show gratitude. It is precisely what we have been talking about. We must ask how those people who are alleged to be showing solidarity to the other gentleman Kunda came into authority in the party. Because of that I do not expect them to show disloyalty.”
Mulongoti said those in authority would risk inviting displeasure if they did not show neutrality, saying they would only earn respect if they did so.
“But if they show extreme bias because of that position they hold, it is going to have a backlash as well because a political party is a conglomerate of members who have independent minds,” Mulongoti said. “And they also expect that the leadership which is there will serve them in an impartial manner and if you show partiality you create anger in those that are not benefiting from that partiality.”
Mulongoti said those in authority could take their loyalty to wherever they deemed fit but they should remember that the MMD belonged to all the members.
“And a decision will be made by the party officials at the convention,” he said.
Mulongoti said he was ready to defend democracy at any cost.
He said he did not mind losing at the convention because what mattered most was the defence of the principle of democracy.
Asked if he was ready to lose his ministerial job because of his defence for democracy in the ruling party, Mulongoti responded in the affirmative.
“Let me say this, Patson, you lose a job you find it. I lost it in 2000. I lost it; I found it again, right? So, losing the job is not the issue. It is the defence of the ideal of democracy that I am for,” Mulongoti said. “I do not think that when we defend democracy we must pay a small price. You can pay a big price. We are aware of that.”
He said he was a purchasing and supplies manager with a personal-to-holder vehicle when he went to Garden House at the formation of the MMD.
Mulongoti said he did not go there out of desperation, but on a matter of principle.
He said in 2000, he was the first minister to be dismissed by then president Frederick Chiluba when he opposed the third term bid.
“And this ideal is the one on democracy, and over that there is no compromise. And this is why when I stand up to say my motto is democracy forever, I mean exactly that because that is what I have stood for,” Mulongoti said. “And because of that, I am more than willing to go all the way in the defence of democracy.”
Mulongoti said he hoped the colleagues in MMD could see the values he cherished, especially if those values would lead to greater happiness of the people.
He said he would not withdraw the statement he recently made that without him and late Benny Tetamashimba, President Banda would not be President today.
“Well I said it. I don’t want to repeat it. I said it. Look, what I say is already said. So it can’t be withdrawn,” Mulongoti said.
Mulongoti said no matter which way one looked at the truth, the truth still remained.
He said intellectualism could challenge the truth, but it shall still stand.
“It is not a matter of being dishonourable, no. Those are historical facts. They are there. They will remain on record for years to come because they are facts…and we would like to be proud of our history, especially good history,” said Mulongoti.
According to President Banda, Mulongoti was among the first emissaries that late president Levy Mwanawasa sent to his Banda farm in Chipata to invite the former UNIP member to join the MMD and help Mwanawasa campaign for a second-term of office.
But well placed MMD sources revealed on Thursday that President Banda had in fact given a green light for provincial MMD executive committees to endorse the candidature of Kunda.
“The President wants Kunda to be the vice-president because he is more trustworthy than Mike Mulongoti. He fears that Mulongoti has an independent mind and a difficult person to control. That is why the endorsements for Kunda you are seeing from the provinces are not from without. The President feels electing Mulongoti might spell trouble for him,” the sources said. “The endorsements have Presidential backing. The President has actually instructed people like Lusaka Province MMD chairperson William Banda to spearhead the campaigns for him and Kunda. The President in fact sent acting MMD national secretary Chembe Nyangu to go and offer solidarity when George announced his candidature at the Lusaka MMD provincial offices.”
The sources said in fact President Banda held a meeting with Vice-President Kunda and Nyangu, hours before he declared his vice-presidential candidature.
The sources said apart from having issues with Mulongoti’s loyalty, President Banda did not like the people he Mulongoti was working with like Mbita Chitala.
“Of course it is public knowledge that Mbita Chitala is eyeing the position of national secretary, and the President has issues with that. The President feels Mulongoti might want to come up with parallel structures,” the source said. “The President wants the relationship he has enjoyed with George Kunda to continue at party level. But if you have heard statements from Mulongoti, he is always emphasising the need for democracy and that all those aspiring for positions should be allowed to do so without undue influence.”
The sources further revealed that foreign minister Kabinga Pande was initially interested in the vice-presidency but did not get a favourable response from the President.
The sources said chairperson for legal affairs Bwalya Chiti was among the many interested in the vice-presidency.
When contacted over the issue, Pande, who is MMD deputy national chairman, said he will announce the position he would contest for tomorrow.
Chiti also refused to comment on the matter, saying he would announce at the right time.
The sources disclosed that Zambian High Commissioner to Malawi Major Richard Kachingwe was seriously considering abandoning the diplomatic duties to contest the position of national secretary.
“We also know that education deputy minister Boniface Kawimbe will challenge Michael Mabenga for the position of national chairman,” said sources.
And former Presidential affairs minister Webby Chipili said he would challenge education minister Dora Siliya for the position of party spokesperson.
Chipili, who was earlier interested in the vice-presidency, said he had now settled for the position of party spokesperson because he was better suited for it.
He said he wanted to facilitate information flow between the grassroots and the top leadership, an ingredient he felt was missing.