President Lungu says he was closer to late President Michael Sata politically and that was why he was President.
“I was close to President Michael Sata, thats why I am President today instead of other people,” he said.
Speaking in Kitwe yesterday, President Lungu branded as hypocrites those accusing him of betraying President Sata over the appointment of MMD members to serve in his Government because he was merely following in the footsteps of his predecessor.
President Lungu said he had learnt from President Sata that politics was a game of numbers and the late President had effectively used the tactic to rebuild the ruling party, strengthen the Government and unite the country.
President Lungu was responding to former Lusaka Province minister Mulenga Sata who, when defecting to join the United Party for National Development (UPND), made a stinging attack on President Lungu, accusing him of having betrayed the vision and ideals of his father by appointing MMD members as ministers in the PF Government.
Mr Sata, the eldest son of late President Sata, said he was leaving PF because his conscience could no longer allow him to be part of a system that ‘‘demonised and despised’‘ his father’s legacy. He said President Lungu had surrounded himself with fiercely anti-PF individuals who had ‘‘grand disrespect’‘ for the founder of PF. In response, President Lungu said: ‘‘As far as we are concerned, we are welcoming people from UPND and from MMD and any other party. That was the culture President Sata left. Mr Sata built PF from without. Wheere did he get the membership from? He got it from MMD.
‘‘Those disparaging us because we are welcoming other people are not politicians. I don’t think I will be penalised because I have embraced new members. Politics is about numbers. Mr Sata did appoint people from MMD and UPND as ministers; what has changed?
‘‘So for pople to put me on the cross and crucify me for betrayimg him, unless they don’t know Mr Sata was a politician.’’
President Lungu said he was close to the late president politically than any other person. ‘‘Who may want to know why I am President? If I were not he would not have trusted me with the huge responsibility (of being acting Presuident) when he knew that there were others in the party; but he trusted me and he allowed me to act as President; he allowed me toact as Defence minister and Justice minister, you name it.’’
Meanwhile, President Lungu said there was need for the Patriotic Front to remain united.
He urged PF members not to be moved by some defections in the party, saying that such activities were common during election period.
He said the Zambian people had so much trust in the ruling party, hence the need for it to come back to power.
President Lungu was speaking upon arrival at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola yesterday.
“As PF, we expect a lot of activities in the political arena because the season for choosing and loosing for others is now, we will see a lot more defections as we go forward. I expect the party to be stronger, united and more resolved, by making sure that we come back after August 11.
“The Zambians have got so much trust in us because of what we have done in the few years we have been in office, so we should not disappoint them by giving up power easily due to failure to organise ourselves.” President Lungu said.
He stated that the PF would continue embracing people from other political parties because that was the culture that late President Sata left.
President Lungu recalled that President Sata embraced everyone who was willing to work with the PF and contributed to the well-being of the Zambian people.
“As far as we are concerned, we are welcoming people from UPND, MMD and other political parties, Mr Sata embraced everyone. So if anyone thinks they want to defect because we are welcoming other people, he is not a politician. Politics is about numbers, we have got people who are willing to work with us, why can’t we embrace them. So for someone to put me on the cross and crucify me for betraying Sata, it’s unfair. Unless they didn’t know him,” he said.
The Head of State said he would not be discouraged by doing what was right and would benefit the people of Zambia.
He reiterated that he would carry on with the responsibility that President Sata left for him.
“I was politically closer to him than some people and that’s why am President, If it were not so, he wouldn’t have trusted me with a huge responsibility the way he did.”
President Lungu also appealed to the Zambian people to re-elect him, so that various developmental projects that the PF had initiated could be completed.
“These projects are enough evidence that the economy is getting better, so those people who pray for hardship amongst Zambians will really be at a loss. PF will continue to develop this country and that is why we have to come back after August 11,” he said.