The aspiring presidential candidate Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) says the so-called anti-graft fight being waged by the Patriotic Front leadership falls far short of a genuine cause, but rather represents a campaign to drive fear into the opposition and return Zambia to a one-party state.
The Liuwa Parliamentarian – one of the seven MMD candidates aspiring to lead the former ruling party – has dismissed the highly publicised but widely viewed vindictive corruption fight the PF government has employed as lacking merit with the aim of diverting attention from its failures following a disastrous 90 day period they anchored their campaign promise.
Ironically, Dr Musokotwane is one of the many former government leaders that are being targeted on flimsy grounds of corruption for owning bicycles, among other charges, coined in the abuse of office slogan.
The respected economist and academician who served as advisor of two former finance ministers Emmanuel Kasonde and Katele Kalumba before serving third Republican president Levy Mwanawasa further dismissed the PF corruption campaign as “a cheap but loud political game.”
Dr Musokotwane was speaking on a live Cross Fire Radio debate on Friday evening which also hosted another MMD aspiring presidential candidate and former Republican vice president Enock Kavindele.
He dismissed the notion perpetrated by PF and its propaganda wing The Post that the MMD, as a political was corrupt, while admitting there could be some individuals – like in many set ups – that had fallen prey to the vice while the party was in government.
In fact Musokwatane believes the “PF song of corruption was a gimmick to sweep their own dirt” under the carpet, in a jibe making apparent reference to the K14 billion Development Bank of Zambia saga involving President Michael Sata’s most trusted allies Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito and the party’s chief propagandist M’membe (Post editor). Nchito and M’membe have been ordered to pay K14 billion with interest after they defaulted but the duo are using underhand method using Solicitor General Musa Mwenya (discredited former LAZ president who campaigned for PF while in office) and finance minister Alexander Chikwanda to compel the public bank to write off the debt.
“In 20 years, there are some people who were in the MMD and are now in PF who are singing loudest about the corruption. The people who are singing loudest today on corruption are the ones behind corruption,” he alleged.
“Most of the time, this is just a political game to divert Zambian’s attention to hide their own corruption.”
Dr Musokotwane, a former International Monetary Fund economist with a three-year-old political career, said there has been more corruption in the PF government the eight months they have been in power than any other government in the history of the country’s political governance.
“As you read whether its the Zambian Watchdog or any other independent newspaper, within this short time there are so many allegations of corruption in the PF,” he said.
Dr Musokotwane said the MMD and its leaders were being targeted to cripple its operations and allow the PF to assume the sole governance style.
“These allegations [of corruption] are not genuine but the tactic is to kill MMD,” urging members of the party to stand strong and remain resilient in the face of adversity and proudly said the former ruling partly had “left Zambia a better place in 2011 than when it assumed office in 1991.”
He is delighted that despite the persecution members of the party and its leaders were enduring at the hands of the PF government, grassroots structures were intact a basis he said would help its return to power.
Dr Musokotwabe said he had traveled the country on his campaign trail for the MMD presidency and that people were surprised at so many strange things happening under the PF regime citing massive triabalism where 11 members of Cabinet out of the 20 hail from the same region as the Head of State.
He said a lot of people in the country including those that had voted the PF government were dissatisfied and now felt betrayed, as they, especially the young people, were deceived into voting for change that never was.
Kavindele, a panelist on the programme, echoed Dr Musokotwane’s sentiments.
The former Republican vice-president’s political career is not new to Zambian politics having served the founding party UNIP and the MMD for a combined career spurning over 30 years.
Kavindele accused the PF government of exerting excessive financial pressure through election petitions, the impounding of party vehicles and the deregistration of the MMD for allegedly failing to remit annual returns to the Registrar of Societies.
“They have made life a little bit expensive for our leaders. Certain things done to our party, for instance impounding motor vehicle donated by our friends is [done] order to make us immobile. They have taken us to court to cripple us because of expenses,” he stressed.
“The accusations [of corruption] in most cases were malicious. Talking about corruption in the press is not enough. There are laws in the country. Our leaders are being targeted, the government will help if there are specifics.”
Both Dr Musokotwane and Kavindele pledged to revive and re-brand the MMD given the opportunity to lead the party after their intra-party elections.
Another former Republican vice-president Nevers Mumba is also in the race for the top post and is widely viewed as front runner to take over from Rupiah Banda.
Leader of the opposition in Parlaiment Felix Mutati, Kabinga Pande, Kapembwa Simbao and Moses Muteteka are the other candidates vying for the top seat in the MMD at the May 25 provincial convention.