Africa & World

Lungu refuses to take part in Presidential election debates: ‘Those are for opposition’

ZAMBIAN State House special assistant to the President for press and public relations Isaac Chipampe has said Presidential debates were not in the Constitution and that it was wrong to force anyone to take part.

General elections will be held in Zambia on 12 August 2021 to elect the President and National Assembly, and incumbent Edgar Lungu faces fierce rival politician who has been president of the United Party for National Development, an opposition political party, since 2006.

Chipampe yesterday said that there was no need for President Lungu to take part in a Presidential debate because people could see how he had developed the country in the shortest period.

“I think there is no time for Presidential debates. Presidential debates are not even in our Constitution. So, it is just those who want to appear on TV to debate [that] can appear, nobody will stop them. But as far as Presidential debates are concerned, they are not in the Constitution to force anyone to do them.

“Each Presidential candidate I am sure has his or her own strategy on how they want to convince or persuade the Zambian people to vote for them, Presidential debate or no Presidential debate,” Chipampe said.

“I think for those who are not in government, maybe it is an opportunity for them. But for President Lungu, people can see what he has done. He doesn’t need to persuade people through Presidential debates, people can see how he has developed this country in the shortest period of time. So, he doesn’t need a Presidential debate.”

Chipampe further said Dr Kaunda’s state funeral was one of the best state events, in terms of organisation.

“Let me put it this way, the most important thing is a proper and deserving send-off for his Excellency Dr Kenneth Kaunda our first Republican president, our founding father for this nation. He deserves a proper send-off. I think the Zambian government has done a well-deserved job, a well commendable job in terms of a proper send-off for Dr Kaunda, because he deserved it.

“The government led by his Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has done a commendable job in terms of preparations and the ongoing send-off, firstly by according people the opportunity to mourn his excellency Dr Kaunda in all provinces. That has been done,” Chipampe said.

“Secondly by according him a proper state funeral, everyone who saw it, either on TV or by going to the Showgrounds would tell you that it was one of the best state events in terms of organisation. I think the military was on point, the people who were singing were on point, the master of ceremony did a commendable job, Brigadier General Mwenya as usual. Everything was done properly, sticking to time. As you heard, the speeches were fantastic, including the speech by his Excellency the President, I think it was appropriate for the host President.”

And commenting on the non-attendance of some opposition leaders at the state funeral, Chipampe said opposition leaders should not expect invitation cards for state functions to be dropped at their door steps

“The issue of who didn’t attend and who attended as far as his Excellency is concerned is a non-issue. As far as the President is concerned what matters is how we are doing the send-off, how Dr Kaunda is being respected. That is what matters to him, individuals don’t matter, personal interests, grudges, egos and so forth don’t matter at all.

“As the President said those who won’t make it to showgrounds will watch it on TV and there were a lot of Zambians, not only in Lusaka, who watched on TV. They have no issue because all of us could not get into the showgrounds. The President as you know through Cabinet invites opposition leaders to attend this function,” said Chipampe.

“All the opposition cannot expect the invitations to be delivered on their door steps. What usually happens is that opposition leaders send their people to pick these cards from Cabinet Office. As far as Cabinet Office is concerned, all opposition leaders were invited. So, you cannot force people who don’t want to attend the function to attend.

“Those who wanted to attend, I saw a couple of the opposition leaders, they picked their letters. That is just to tell you what happens. For President Lungu what matters is a proper send-off for his excellency. He won’t be diverted from that by those who are grumbling about not being invited and being invited, what matters is the proper send-off.” – Zambian Observer / Agencies

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