Cartel fights Chikwanda

IT has become clear that the unelected clique that has launched a hate and slander campaign against Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda has become dangerously desperate to take over the leadership of the ruling Patriotic Front and the country,’ People’s Party (pp) president Mike Mulongoti has warned.

Mr Mulongoti has asked President Sata to quickly deal with the clique planning to take over the country’s presidency when there was a sitting President because the cartel was not only a danger to the presidency but the governance of the country.

Mr Mulongoti has questioned whose interests Anglican Church Priest Father Richard Luonde was serving by attacking Mr Chikwanda who was only following the law in the intended implementation of the $600 million VAT refunds.

Mr Mulongoti has advised Fr Luonde to stop championing calls he did not understand but concentrate on the problems with his church.

Mr Mulongoti said Fr Luonde and Bishop Mambo were not the right people to condemn and disparage Mr Chikwanda on matters that were formulated out of cabinet resolutions.

He wondered what law Bishop Mambo was quoting to call for the arrest of Mr Chikwanda adding that it was not a crime for a minister to engage in private business with private companies such as the mines.

He said it was frightening that cabinet ministers serving under President Michael Sata had kept quiet while one of their own was being slandered and maligned by hired individuals.

Mr Mulongoti said that it had become evident that there was attrition in the Patriotic Front (PF) either because of the struggle for political power, government contracts or the succession process that many Zambians did not know it had commenced.

Mr Mulongoti stated that Zambia had a government under the administration of the PF and that Zambians were interested to know why there were such attritions in the ruling party when there was a sitting President in the name of President Sata.The People’s Party leader said going by the malicious campaign against Mr Chikwanda, it was likely that the Minister of Finance was the front runner in the matrix of succession struggle and that the clique that is propagating hate messages against the Minister were uncomfortable that President Sata had appointed him (Chikwanda) to act as President on countless occassions.

He said it was puzzling that cabinet ministers including the Minister of Mines and Energy and Water Development were quiet when Mr Chikwanda was being attacked using a leaked letter that is discussing the Value Added Tax (VAT) General Administration Rule 18.

“It would appear that there is a war of attrition in the PF either as a result of the struggle for political power, contracts or succession and the clique that has launched the hate and slander campaign against Mr Chikwanda is in fact fighting President Sata. There is a government in this country under the administration of the PF and it is our expectation that those aspiring for power should have respect for the Sata administration. I am also wondering whose interests Fr Luonde and Bishop Mambo are serving in all this because that is not their jurisdiction,” Mr Mulongoti said. Mr Mulongoti said the issue of the mines had a cabinet portfolio whose head was Christopher Yaluma and that it would only be appropriate for Zambians to hear position on a sensitive economic matter like the $600 VAT refund to the mines.

The opposition leader has challenged Fr Luonde to name the alleged companies belonging to Mr Chikwanda that were purportedly supplying the mines saying such private business transactions were not against law unless the Finance Minister was dealing with government.

“The law that we have prohibits cabinet ministers to do business with government but there is no law that dictates that ministers should not engage in business with private companies such as the mines. All the people that are talking are saying that Mr Chikwanda has business with the mines and not government. Let them say what they have found defective in Mr Chikwanda doing business with the mines which are private companies,” Mr Mulongoti said.He said clique that has been attacking Mr Chikwanda had distorted the issue with pettiness adding that the matter of the $600 million VAT refunds to the mines had been simmering for a long time.