International Monetary Fund (IMF) spokesperson Andrew Kanyegirire says the Fund is still committed to reaching staff-level agreement for a bailout package with Zambia.

Kanyegirire told this to News Digger! in response to a press query regarding President Edgar Lungu’s declaration of a Threatened State of Public Emergency.

He was asked to state if the IMF was concerned that the Zambian government would divert resources from other sectors and channeling them towards police and emergency security expenditure.

Kanyegirire was also asked to comment on whether the Fund remained confident that the Zambian government, given the limited media freedom under the declared Threatened State of Emergency, would be accountable and transparent in the utilization of its borrowed resources.

In his brief response, Kanyegirire could not react to the specific questions raised, but said IMF enjoyed a good working relationship with the Zambian authorities and remained committed to helping the country maintain macroeconomic stability.

“Zambia is a member of the IMF and we have a good working relationship with the authorities. IMF staff and the Zambian authorities have agreed on the remaining actions that are needed to reach staff-level agreement,” stated Kanyegirire.

“IMF staff remain committed to this process and continue to support the authorities efforts to maintain macroeconomic stability for all Zambians.”

On July 6, 2017 during a press conference at State House, President Lungu said if the IMF was not happy with his declaration, they were free to pull out.

“I don’t think the IMF would like this country to go into flames, I don’t think any investor would like to see this country destroyed, the measures that we have put in place are intended to safeguard the IMF program. If it comes to the IMF to say ‘Lungu has gone out of the way, I will refer them to Article 31 of the Constitution which gives me that power. Everything we do, we consult and I want to be remembered for just sticking to the law and doing things within the expectations of the people so IMF if they want to go because of this, they can go and I am saying this openly. If IMF thinks we have gone beyond the norms of good governance and democracy, they are free to go,” said President Lungu.

“We cannot sacrifice the Zambian people at the altar of economic expediency. What are we investing for? We invest the money today and tomorrow they burn the money up? No, as long as the people are safe, the IMF, their programme will be safe but if the people are not safe and infrastructure is being burnt left right and centre, we have to spend money to build those markets again, we have to spend money to put the electricity pylons, this is what the IMF would like? I am sure the IMF would not like that kind of thing. The IMF would like to come into a country which is stable, growing, and where they are sure that their money or programmes will yield desired results. But I have made it very clear that if they think I have gone astray, let them go.