MAZABUKA Central UPND member of parliament says President Edgar Lungu does not care about Zambia’s debt crisis because his focus is on campaigning around the country ahead of next year’s general election.
On Monday, Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe said those questioning President Lungu’s perceived silence on the state of the economy should know that whatever Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu said was ultimately the Head of State’s position.
But in an interview, Nkombo said Dr Ng’andu should not be the one to give the country answers when he was not part of the debt problem.
“I think it has become clear to everybody that the President concentrates on things that are of less value for this country. The country is grappling with the debt crisis, which they have created themselves and he is quiet? Instead, he has embarked on a marathon of a campaign tour and basically trying to go into the self-preservation mode for next year’s election. The country is yearning to hear the President’s position so one can only speculate that either he doesn’t care or he doesn’t understand the mess the country is in. If he doesn’t understand that is fair because the only thing that anybody responsible is required to do is to apologise. And so, the President needs to apologise if he understands the type of crisis he has put this country in. If you recall, when he was launching the fly-over hump at Arcades, he even called us ‘tupuba!’ (little fools!) Now, one may wish to know, who is ‘chipuba’ in this particular case?” asked Nkombo.
“Our expectations are for the President to tell the country how he intends to get into the negotiations with the bondholders and how he plans to restructure the entire debt portfolio that the country owes, both domestic and foreign, that is what we are interested to know. But he is quiet as usual. And I think it is because he does not care or he doesn’t understand. And I suspect that the latter is true. We told Dr Bwalya Ng’andu when he was first appointed, through the floor of Parliament, how he was a brave person to take over a Treasury that had depleted, to take over a portfolio that was so troubled. I think he now does understand, that is my thinking. Probably the Minister did not know the depth of the problem. But now, the buck seems to be stopping at him. But he is a new person in that job and we cannot continue; the Minister giving us answers when he was not part of the creation of the problem.”
Chipampe had explained earlier this week that President Lungu chose to speak on the economy through Dr Ng’andu.
“What I can say is that the Finance Minister has been very vocal about these issues. And you know that he is the right person to talk about economic matters. I think he has been forthright and he has explained to the people what is happening and the direction the government is taking. The President speaks almost every time he is out, he talks to the people. The Finance Minister has explained what is supposed to be explained. Honourable Bwalya Ng’andu has been explaining the issues concerning the economy and you know that is the right office anywhere in the world. So, whatever he says is the position of the President, he meets the President before he speaks,” said Chipampe.