Forum for Democracy and Development Spokesperson Antonio Mwanza says the ruling party wants to chase Finance Minister Felix Mutati because of his fiscal discipline which they are not used to.

And Mwanza says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s remarks in South Africa do not amount to denting the country’s image.

Speaking when he featured on UNZA Radio’s Lusaka Star programme today, Mwanza observed that the PF were too used to corruption to stand Mutati’s discipline.

“Through the dictates of the IMF, the World Bank, and the rating agencies, looking at the fact that this country is broke, there are a lot of stringent measures that the IMF, the World Bank, the cooperating partners are pushing on Zambia to make sure that we try to stabilize our fiscal position, moving forward as a country. And therefore the issues of money have become a problem here because the PF are used to collecting debts and sharing the money. They are used to corruption. So president Mutati has been putting measures with regards to the fiscal side of the state. And they are not happy with that. So he has become a thorn in the flesh and they want him out and they will succeed to flush MMD out. It’s up to president Mutati and the MMD to open up their eyes. They no longer have room in PF. They are going,” Mwanza said.

He also said the budget which Mutati will present to Parliament on Friday will just be a meaningless piece of paper because there is no money.

“This budget will just be on paper but there is no adequate financing. There would not be discipline to ensure its implementation. The problem we have is accountability. President Edgar Lungu has told us that he is running a corrupt government, he told us his Ministers are stealing. He has told us publicly that he was going to fire those Ministers who were stealing from the Zambian people. We as FDD believe that we are not here simply to form government, but we are here to provide leadership. It is not a matter of life and death, what we need to do is to continue proving leadership, checks and balances, providing alternative policies and practically helping the Zambian people to move forward economically,” Mwanza said.

And Mwanza said HH had not been denting Zambia’s image but simply telling the truth about his incarceration.

“I listened to the speech of President Hakainde Hichilema in South Africa and I have listened to the sentiments that have come out from members of the Patriotic Front and many other people who have labeled president Hakainde Hichilema as a sale-out who went to South Africa to dent the image of Zambia. After carefully listening to the speech of president Hakainde Hichilema and listening to the views of comrades Emmanuel Mwamba, Sunday Chanda, and many other comrades in the PF, I have come to the following conclusion; what Hakainde Hichilema said in South Africa does not amount to denting the image of Zambia because he was simply referring to the treatment that he received from the time he was arrested, the period he was incarcerated, until the time that he was released. He was simply narrating the story of his arrest, his incarceration, his trial, and his release and that has got nothing to do with the image of Zambia. That has got everything to do with the facts,” Mwanza said.

Mwanza said criticizing President Edgar Lungu and the PF was not the same as being unpatriotic.

“And I want also to echo the fact that President Edgar Lungu and PF are not Zambia, and I want to repeat, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and his Patriotic Front are not Zambia. They are simply a President and a political party in office. And when we criticize President Edgar Lungu and when we criticize the Patriotic Front, that does not mean that we are denting the image of Zambia. So to claim that anyone who tells a story about how PF has mistreated him, to an outsider is being undiplomatic, is being unpatriotic is simply not true. I want to state that patriotism does not mean standing by the President, patriotism means standing by your country. What is it that president Hakainde Hichilema said that is not unpatriotic? There is nothing wrong with saying the truth, you can even say it to the high heaven, it does not dent the image of Zambia,” Mwanza said.

“The people that are denting the image of Zambia is President Edgar Lungu and his Patriotic Front by using the police to intimidate people, arrest, and abuse opponents, and by invoking Article 31 and create an image to the outside world that this country is on fire. It is them that are denting the image of Zambia by refusing to respect the rule of law, by refusing to respect the human rights of individuals, by refusing us as opposition political parties to freely go round and mobilize ourselves. It is them that are denting the image of Zambia by closing media houses that are critical to the government, it is them that are denting the image of Zambia by the massive corruption.”

Mwanza also urged UPND officials to be aggressive in defending their leader against numerous attacks.

“I am taken aback when I see that the UPND as a political party are not coming to the fore to set the records straight and to defend their president. I did not come here to speak on behalf of the UPND because I am FDD. But I am forced to speak and defend UPND because I haven’t heard UPND officials coming out very clearly to defend their president and I think that is something that UPND will have to work on,” said Mwanza.