PEOPLE’S Party president Mike Mulongoti says the visit by diplomats to UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s residence last weekend was a silent endorsement of the people’s wishes to vote out PF in the August 11 general elections.
Hichilema last weekend hosted diplomats accredited to Zambia, among them US Ambassador Eric Schultz, Germany’s Bernd Finke, Timo Olkkonen of Finland, Italy’s Filipo Scammaca and Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Arda, among others, where the latter, on behalf of everyone, wished the opposition leader good luck in the upcoming elections.
Commenting on the visit, Mulongoti said such a meeting is referred to in diplomacy as constructive engagement owing to the current political, social, and economic state of the country.
“What happened is what we call in diplomacy as constructive engagement where you meet with people like HH like that, that is constructive engagement in diplomacy. That act was constructive engagement. Constructive is for instance when your employers are dismissing you without telling you that they are firing you. By their conduct, they are sending you away and not saying it. It is posing a silent endorsement of what Zambians want, which is to remove PF from government in the coming elections,” Mulongoti said.
He said the meeting held at Hichilema’s residence was of significant magnitude and that foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba was politicking when he simply dismissed it.
“He was speaking politics. Since when was it tolerated here? That is the question. I think the minister spoke too early. He should have waited to see what the feeling of Zambians are. Mind you, everything you do if you come from across the border raises eyebrows. We would like to see discussions enhanced within the family but when a group of people gang up and seem to be having a conversation with one member of the family, they will rise up and say ‘why’,” Mulongoti said.
“And at what point do you draw a distinction between help, political advice and interference? We are all interested parties in the political arena and what we would have loved them to do is call us together so that we can also meet them. We would be grateful to hear from them so that we are together doing the right thing. If you are selective in the giving of advice, are you helping the whole process? You are creating suspicion in the process. What we expected them to do is they would have said ‘all of you in the opposition, let us have a meeting so that we hear you’. Now once you begin to show preferences, when there is 50 per cent plus one, what are you saying?”
He, however, said the concerns raised by diplomats were genuine but that they were not new.
“That issue of violence is topical among ourselves as well. I don’t think there is anything new that they have said which we haven’t said. It concerns us as well so we would expect that those accredited to Zambia as diplomats, have got many sources of talking to government. They can also talk to government quietly which sometimes makes it easier for them to be heard,” said Mulongoti.
“And since they are commenting on Africa, I want to refer to how Mr Donald Trump is portraying us as blacks in bad light; have they commented to protect us from Mr Donald Trump’s attacks?” wondered Mulongoti.