By Staff Reporter
Patriotic Front (PF) leaders are eating with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) opposition leader and former Katanga province governor Moise Katumbi, People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti has charged.
Commenting on the Zambian government’s silence on Katumbi stay in the country and quick deportation of Zimbabwean opposition leader Tendai Biti, Mulongoti said it was risk for the country to take sides on its neighbours’ internal politics.
“We shall pay for our inconsistence as a country. We shall pay in the long run for being insensitive. It is not in the best interest of our country and our people for the government to take sides. But we have thrown all that to the wind. Remember it is about Zambia and not them (PF),” warned Mulongoti.
He further warned that the PF government’s silent links with Katumbi would injure its relationship with neighbouring countries.
Mulongoti accused the PF government of playing double standard over Biti and Katumbi’s entry into the country because they benefit from latter’s generosity.
“This is inconsistence. In the long run we shall pay,” warned Mulongoti. “When Katumbi was Governor many of those in government today were eating with him. It is now not surprising that the PF government is silent on Katumbi. If I may ask, how many are eating with him?….They are so many. I doubt if President Lungu has not benefited from Katumbi’s favours. That is the reason why they are silent on him because they are eating with him.”
Katumbi was reportedly accorded a presidential police escort when he recently attempted to enter DRC at Kasumbalesa Border Post. Katumbi was denied entry into DRC.
Mulongoti charged that the PF government rushed to surrender Biti because he showed solidarity with opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema when he was incarcerated.
“In the eyes of PF, Biti is supporter of UPND hence their rush to surrender him,” he said.
He said the PF government should learn from the country’s past mistakes relating to the political affairs of its neighbouring countries.
“We even rushed to send congratulatory message to President Mnangangwa when it was very clear that the election results were going to be challenged,” said Mulongoti. “This lack of sensitivity is dangerous. We saw it during Zimbabwe’s first elections… when we supported Joshua Nkomo more than Robert Mugabe factions and when Mugabe won, our relationship was injured.”
However, Mulongoti noted that Africans faced a serious challenge of giving each other political space to operate and contribute to national development.
“Our challenge as Africans is that we are not giving each other space to operate,” said Mulongoti.
He said both Katumbi and Biti were victims of political exclusion by their respective countries.
“President Kabila can’t claim legitimacy if he can’t allow his citizens space to operate. I am not a Congolese but it clear that Katumbi was denied entry because of his popularity,” said Mulongoti. “I have no respect for people to do not respect their own electoral process and constitution.”