President Banda’ spokesperson Dickson Jere has dismissed the story published by the Post newspaper claiming that the president has promised chiefs from Luapula the vice-presidency.
In a spress statement to the Watchdog Friday afternoon, Jere sayid ‘at no time did the traditional leaders or the President himself ever discuss (formally or informally) the issue of the Vice-Presidency.
” I wish to categorically state that His Excellency, Mr. Rupiah Banda, President of the Republic of Zambia, has never promised or discussed with anyone the issue of the Republican Vice-President during his working visit to Luapula Province.”
Jere accused the Post newspaper of malice and misleading the public.
“Contrary to the misleading and malicious story published by The Post Newspaper of February 12, 2010 titled “Rupiah Promises Luapula Chiefs a Vice-President”, the President ‘s meeting with the traditional leaders centred on developmental issues such as health, education, roads and water transport.”
Jere said that apart from the reported meeting with Senior Chief Mwata Kazembe, President Banda held several other meetings with different chiefs where various issues were discussed.
He challenged the Post Newspaper to name the specific meeting or traditional leader who discussed the issue of the Vice-Presidency with the President during the visit to Luapula Province.
“At no time has President Banda ever discussed with Mr. Chriticles Mwansa, Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Commissioner-General, on the possibility of his becoming Republican Vice-President as a way of enticing Luapula Province to vote for him in the 2011 General Elections,’ said Jere.
“It is also worth noting that the Post Newspaper in the last few months had informed the nation that President Banda would appoint Livingstone Member of Parliament, Hon. Sakwiba Sikota MP, as Vice President of the Republic of Zambia. A few weeks later, the same newspaper informed the nation that its sources had informed it that Energy Minister, Hon. Kenneth Konga, MP, would be appointed Vice-President. Today, the same newspaper is telling the nation that Mr. Chriticles Mwansa is being considered for the Vice-President position,’ said Jere.
Jere ended by saying that:
“It is the wish of President Banda that the press in Zambia should be very factual in their reporting and verify information at all times before publishing to avoid misleading the nation.
THE POST PUBLISHED THE FOLLOWING STORY ON FRIDAY
By George Chellah in Lusaka and Chibaula Silwamba in Mwansabomb
PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda has promised the traditional leadership in Luapula Province that he will appoint Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Commissioner General Chriticles Mwansa as Republican Vice-President if they deliver the province to MMD in the 2011 presidential and general elections.
And President Banda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Katanga governor Moses Katumbi, Mwata Kazembe and Mwansa on Wednesday held a closed door meeting in Mwansabombwe.
Well-placed sources within the MMD yesterday disclosed that President Banda assured the traditional leadership that he would give them the Vice-Presidency in the event that he retained the Presidency with their support next year.
“During his last visit to Luapula Province, the President had a closed-door meeting with Mwata Kazembe and we are told Chriticles was also there although he kept on going in and out of the meeting. What you need to understand is that President Banda is so desperate and if there is a province that worries him most, it’s Luapula because he knows that it’s a serious PF stronghold,” the source revealed. “That’s why he has promised the traditional leadership that he will make Chriticles Vice-President once they assist him and deliver Luapula Province to the MMD and himself in particular. Of course, we all know who is at the centre of these schemes, it’s Frederick Chiluba.
“The President wants to involve the chiefs in the province with the hope of turning the tables. He thinks that just because Chriticles has a history with the Umutomboko Ceremony…his involvement with the organising committee then he is a serious factor in Luapula politics, which is not the case. People know that Chriticles has no firm ground or serious interactions with the grassroot in the province.”
The sources said Mwansa was aware of President Banda’s intentions.
“Chriticles himself knows this story and it appears he is excited. He thinks it’s an opportunity for him to be Vice-President of the Republic of Zambia since that’s what the head of state is promising. Actually, we hear that he has even informed his family members in Luapula who apparently are staunch PF and Michael Sata supporters to defect to the MMD,” the source said. “In fact, we are told that there is serious resistance from some family members especially his elder brother who is actually eyeing one of the seats in the province on a PF ticket. But this has actually not gone down well with Chriticles because it’s like he feels that some of his family members are spoiling his chances by resisting to crossover.”
The sources said many people within the ruling party were shocked with President Banda’s recent manoeuvres.
“We are surprised and we are just wondering how many Vice-Presidents the President is going to appoint before he leaves office. You and I know that he has played this same card with other provinces before,” the source said. “The President has in the past hinted to give the Vice-Presidency to Western Province and probably Northern Province as well.
“It appears this is the story the President knows best. Anyway, let’s see which promise he will honour because it seems a number of people have been promised the Vice-Presidency.”
The sources disclosed that there were also manoeuvres within the MMD to have a well-known politician and businessman from one of the neighbouring countries bankroll its campaigns.
And as President Banda was having a one-to-one closed door meeting with senior chief Mwata Kazembe of the Lunda people of Luapula Province, Katumbi was outside in the shelter chatting with minister of education Dora Siliya, presidential spokesperson Dickson Jere, Kawambwa member of parliament Elizabeth Chitika Mulobeka among several other Zambian government officials.
Thirty minutes into President Banda and Mwata Kazembe’s meeting, Katumbi and Mwansa, who is also Umutomboko traditional ceremony national chairperson, were called to join the meeting. The quartet had a meeting for about five to 10 minutes. Thereafter, Katumbi and Mwansa left the meeting. Katumbi shook hands with Siliya, Jere, Chitika-Mulobeka, health minister Kapembwa Simbao and other officials before leaving the palace in a convoy. Among the vehicles on Katumbi’s convoy were Zambian government vehicles.
As Katumbi was driving out of the palace, President Banda and Mwata Kazembe also emerged from their meeting. Mwata Kazembe escorted President Banda outside the house for about three meters and went back while President Banda was ushered to shake hands with Lunda traditional elders.
As President Banda was being led to his official vehicle, PF ‘rebel’ members of parliament for Pambashe Dr Bernard Chishya and Chitika-Mulobeka stopped him for a discussion that lasted about four to five minutes.
Thereafter, President Banda was driven to the nearby football ground to board the presidential chopper. Dr Chishya, Chitika and other PF ‘rebel’ parliamentarians followed President Banda and engaged him in another discussion for about three to four minutes.
And a senior MMD official in Mwansabombwe Constituency, who sought anonymity, said people were unhappy that President Banda did not address them.
He observed that President Banda failed to address Mwansabombwe residents because the MMD was in deep divisions over the current administrations’ trashing of late president Levy Mwanawasa’s successes and legacy.
“People are not happy with the campaign they have started that Mwanawasa was doing wrong things. Mwanawasa built us a bridge referring to Mwanawasa Bridge on Luapula River. He has left a legacy,” said an MMD official, who was clad in a T-shirt with Mwanawasa’s portrait.
The source said staunch MMD members were unhappy that newcomers to the party were given positions while the members that were in the party longer were being sidelined.
“Just like today’s edition of The Post said, the people who defected to our party at Mansa airport are not PF, they MMD provincial officials just wanted to mislead the President. Those people who defected are MMD members,” the source said. “It’s a lie that those people defected from the PF.”
A handful of people were presented to President Banda by Luapula Province MMD chairperson Chrispine Musosha, who claimed that they defected from the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) to MMD.