By NATION REPORTER
EMERITUS Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu says attempts by State House and Cabinet Office to have him disown and discredit the Our Civic Duty Association (OCIDA) statement released to the media last week will not succeed because “what I have written, I have written.”
And Archbishop Mpundu has described as dictatorship efforts by the State to gag him and OCIDA from holding a press conference at which he was to address a range of governance issues including regionalism, corruption, emerging dictatorship, high cost of living among others.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Mpundu has rubbished claims by government that the OCIDA statement which was circulated to the media last week was authored by University of Zambia lecturer Sishuwa Sishuwa and Zambia former Ambassador to Ethiopia Emmanuel Mwamba, stating he did not need the two to express his views on national matters.
In an interview, Sunday, Archbishop Mpundu said he owned the OCIDA statement which was circulated to the media last week and that he had sanctioned its distribution after State House and Cabinet Office allegedly sent an emissary in the name of Mwamba Peni to persuade him not to read the statement.
He stated that the UPND administration had adopted the divide and rule tactic and had succeeded in converting some of the trustees against OCIDA who had now launched a crusade to discredit a statement whose draft they had seen and studied.
Archbishop Mpundu stated that he was not going to withdraw the statement nor was he going to disown it and that if government was not pleased with him, there was nothing he could do but advise them to accept his position and work with it.
“Government did not want me to read the statement and so I told one of my people to circulate the document to the press. So that statement cannot be more official than that. It was written and it remains written by us (OCIDA). It is like Pilate who was asked by the Chief priests of the Jews not to write that Jesus was the King of the Jews but to write that Jesus said He was the King of the Jews. But Pilate answered, what I have written, I have written. So I will not withdraw the statement and what I have written, I have written. If they want to take me tom court, so be it,” Archbishop Mpundu said.
He said he had assumed the chairmanship of OCIDA after the retirement of late Simon Zukas and that OCIDA trustees who did not want to continue belonging to the organisation were free to walk away.
Archbishop Mpundu said OCIDA was not going to force its members to stay with the organisation because Zambia was a democracy.
“Remember this is supposed to be a democracy where there is free speech, where people can express their opinions freely…and those who have been elected must listen to the people because it is the people who hold power. The legitimacy of any government is the power of the people. So if the government is not happy, let them suit themselves with what they wish because what we dealt with in the statement were things people are talking about,” Archbishop Mpundu said.
And Archbishop Mpundu has rubbished assertions that it was Dr Sishuwa and Emmanuel Mwamba who had written the OCIDA statement, stating that he did not know the two and had never interacted with any one of them in his life.
He said there was no way he was going to allow anyone person write his thoughts on his behalf because “I always write what I speak.”
Archbishop Mpundu said Zambia should not be allowed to drift back to the dictatorship of the past regimes and that the UPND was being undemocratic by attempting to drown his voice.
“The people from State House sent Mwamba Peni (Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) at Cabinet to come and persuade me not to read the statement. Before they (UPND) formed government, they were happy to listen to the statements I was making. Tell them that not too long ago, Telesphore Mpundu was your hero, what has changed. When I said it was wrong to incarcerate Hakainde Hichilema without trial, they welcomed it and they brought the British Commonwealth here. Remind them of the trips we have made together.”
“Now all of a sudden, I am not in good books with them. Fine, let it be. I did not tell them that I should be in their books all the time. But they should not be creating lies that I do not own the statement,” he said.