Sata, the hired gun
Post newspaper: Thursday October 25, 2007 [04:00]
Not long ago, home affairs minister Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha described Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata as a shameless old man. Some people might have felt that Lt Gen Shikapwasha was being hard on the old man Sata. But things have to be called by their names. Sata is, in truth, a shameless old man.
And he should be told that no amount of misinformation and propaganda will bury the truth. He can call us names, accuse us of anything but the truth will always remain the truth. After all, what haven’t we been accused of? And this is not the first time Sata has accused us, nor will it be the last. When it suits him, we are pro-MMD; we are compromised by the MMD, we are converted.
However, we don’t lose sleep at such empty accusations because we are always accused of this or that. When it suits the MMD, we are pro-Sata or pro-opposition. And when it suits the opposition, we are pro-the ruling party.
We don’t have to defend ourselves because the work we do is in public domain for the public to judge. And in doing our work, we are guided neither by emotions nor ill-will; we are guided by principles. Unlike Sata, we criticise when there is reason for us to do so. In the same vein, we give praise where it is due. And we do not choose whom to criticise or praise.
We know that Sata and his minions will accuse us of harbouring a vendetta against him. They will accuse us of wanting to destroy their saviour, Sata. We have no vendetta against Sata and we don’t have to destroy him because every time he speaks, he shoots at himself.
Look at the events of this week. We stated in our editorials that Sata’s mission of discrediting China in favour of Taiwan was not based on any principle but was motivated by personal benefits. We added that Sata has never been known to do anything on principle. Everything he does is based on expedience, political or other.
Without saying a lot, we will demonstrate this point by using just one example.
A few months ago, Sata stumbled on information which revealed that President Levy Mwanawasa’s principal private secretary Alfred Chipoya had withdrawn, from Finance Bank, several hundreds of millions of kwacha within a period of one month. Sata wrote to Levy, accusing Chipoya of money laundering, saying he was a mere civil servant who could not afford to have such amounts of money in a bank.
In response, Levy stated that friends and supporters of MMD contributed that money using his personal account at Finance Bank. He stated that the money was legitimately raised for the purpose of campaigns during last year’s elections. Levy further stated that the money was actually utilised as intended because it was given out to parliamentary candidates, hence Chipoya’s withdrawals from the bank.
Sata did not buy this explanation. He questioned why Levy put MMD money in his personal account. He said this amounted to corruption or money laundering.
But when Sata last month wrote to his Taiwanese sponsors, requesting them to give him US $50,000 for his mission to discredit China, he asked them to deposit the money in his personal account at Finance Bank.
And when we suggested that Sata was discrediting China because he was being paid for doing that, Sata said his party had asked for support from various sponsors, including Taiwan, to fund his mission to discredit Taiwan.
We ask the question: If it is wrong for Levy to keep MMD money in his personal account, why should it be right for Sata to keep PF money in his personal account? If it is corruption or money laundering for Levy to keep party funds in his personal account, why should it not be corruption or money laundering for Sata?
This is what we mean when we say Sata stands on no principles. He behaves like a dog of the wind. He is a restless person who changes direction as often as the wind does. In short, he has no direction. He doesn’t even believe in what he says.
Today, he will deny that his fight against China in favour of Taiwan is motivated by personal gains but the truth will remain that Sata is just a hired gun. He chose to commit himself to fighting China because he realised that it would be a lucrative task for him to pursue.
And his blind followers like Guy Scott are busy justifying Sata’s fight against China, not knowing the true reasons that are motivating him into such fights. We wonder what other intellectuals in PF have to say about this, including PF’s shadow minister of foreign affairs Robert Simeza.
Maybe this explains why Sata can’t leave active politics despite his advanced age. It seems he is using politics to keep him going.
In justifying his US $50,000 request from the government of Taiwan, Sata says Taiwan was just one of the sponsors of his trip to the US because PF had asked for funding from a lot of institutions and organisations both locally and abroad.
He said these institutions and organisations responded favourably. But did Sata really need to raise US $100,000 for a week’s trip to the United States? For him, this trip to the US was an opportunity to fundraise.
When we asked him to explain all these matters, all Sata could do was sound more zealous than sensible. He called us all sorts of names, saying we don’t understand corruption and are defending China blindly.
We are not here to defend China. And what Sata is doing against China could probably be politically correct but morally wrong. We are concerned about this moral aspect of Sata’s politics.
We find it immoral that Sata can pursue a personal agenda as though it were a national one. He wants the public to believe that he is opposed to China and its investment in the country for genuine reasons when the real reason is that is getting paid for it.
We have said it before that no economy in the world today can afford to alienate itself from China despite all the problems that China has. And it is true that not all is well with the Chinese investment in the country. But this is not to say we cannot co-operate with China as a country. If big economies like the US can no longer ignore China, what about a limping economy like ours?
It is better to isolate areas of concern regarding Chinese investment in the country and try to deal with those problems. Trashing China completely will not be helpful for the country and indeed for Sata himself.
But because Sata is a hired gun by the Taiwanese, he will keep shooting in all directions just so he can deliver to his financiers. We wish him all the best because, at least, we all know now that Sata is fighting China for personal gain. It’s a lucrative deal for him.