By Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba
When I saw the Minister of Health go live on Facebook at the launch of the Oral Polio Vaccination at the same time as the President’s Press Conference, I knew no one would be fired. In the past, a presidential press conference brought the country to a standstill and Ministers and other officials stood in trepidation fearing a possible reshuffle or dismissal.
PRESIDENT HICHILEMA’S PRESS CONFERENCE
It’s been eight months. The New Dawn Government started on shaky note, and now things seem to have gone south. A presser like the one on Monday could have given the President an opportunity to click on a restart button….as events of last week were a peek view of what has gone wrong in the last few months. But this turned out to be probably one of the least impactful and dreary press conferences that President Hakainde Hichilema has ever held.
The name-calling and derogatory labels uttered by the President put many people off as seen by social-media commentators.
Calling private citizens lunatics, a clique of thieves, crooks, and showing a highly disrespectful, contemptuous and scornful attitude towards one’s Opponents was clearly demeaning for a President.
Warning Bowman Lusambo over his wealth was petty.
“Someone saying to me $150,000 is nothing to me. Well a few years ago, you were a die-hard cadre. Where did you get the money from. The law is closing in”. he said.
Mr President, Lusambo became an MP and a Minister. He rose from nothing to something…like you did! To start with, no one has been convicted in a court of law yet, to earn such expletive names as thieves.
ON MILINGO LUNGU
The Milingo Saga was the trigger, and the reason the Press Conference was called as earlier disclosed by the Minister of Justice, Mulambo Haimbe. But on the matter of former KCM Liquidator, Milingo Lungu, the President chose to posture an evasive demeanor which pointed to his credibility or lack of it on the matter. He avoided answering direct questions which are in the minds of people. Did he meet Milingo?
He was circuitous but finally admitted to the meeting as a by-the-way issue when it was actually the main issue.
ON KAKUBO, MACHILA,MUNDIA AND OTHERS
The President chose the simplistic answers given to him and assumed his officials were telling him the truth, despite the seemingly contradictory evidence. On the Minister of Foreign Affairs, he conveniently ignored the presence of the Ambassador’s vehicle at the Sinoma plant during the Minister’s visit to allegedly buy cement.
He chose to believe the diary, calendar and pen story. He then dwelt on and blamed social media lies as the cause of the crisis. He literally praised and summoned the cyber laws that he had labelled as undemocratic and draconian whilst in Opposition.
It shows that he is being either; extremely naive, disingenuous or he is part of the debacle. In the end, no one has been held accountable. Except for the DPP where their entire gun arsenals are pointed at. Zambians will await the details of the court process in response to Milingo’s stated and sworn facts, as that matter will not go away.
IMMUNITY & THE DPP
The President claimed that there was no one that could grant immunity from prosecution including himself.
For starters, heads of state enjoy constitutional immunity. Others that enjoy immunity or indemnity from prosecutions include accused persons that accept to be witnesses that choose to cooperate and testify.
There are other provisions were indemnity against prosecution is given to persons if they meet the terms and conditions as provided for under the Plea Negotiations and Agreements Act of 2010. The ACC Act of 2012 also provides for immunity from prosecution as given to Faith Musonda in the K65 million saga.
The President also has powers to grant absolute pardons to convicted persons. All these are forms of immunity.
EMOTIONS & SELF PRAISE
In the emotional display seen at the press conference, one sensed the President still harbours anger and bitterness in the manner he was treated whilst he was in Opposition. He repeatedly said he would not use state power to revenge but spent a considerable amount of time discussing persons like Patriotic Front Member of the Central Committee, Raphael Mangani Nakacinda who has been arrested numerous times and coincidentally was earlier picked up by a battalion of Police officers and locked up.
He also disregarded the law by constantly talking about matters that are in court. But it is the self-praise by the President that has been elevated to worrying levels, almost to delusional levels.
“In my household, we don’t allow lies, lies can kill, we don’t lie, lies are illegal, the law will be enforced against liars,” President Hichilema said. My Answer; ” Look who is talking”.
In the end, it’s the state of the economy, which is the greatest crisis facing Zambians that suffered in this press conference.
It received little attention and no tangible measures were demonstrated to arrest the rising cost of living. The President made reference to China joining the IMF driven Creditors’ Forum, the 41,200 recruited teachers and health workers and the proposed measures to unlock wealth from the mines.
After raising so many expectations, after last week’s rot, after the dire economic crisis facing the country, the press conference was an anticlimax, delivering hot air.