Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda says President Edgar Lungu has the smallest delegations on his international trips compared to Michael Sata, Rupiah Banda, Levy Mwanawasa, Frederick Chiluba and Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

And Chanda says he has chosen to believe Finance Minister Felix Mutati on government’s relationship with the International Monetary Fund instead of those who are making noise.

Meanwhile, Chanda says all the nonsense which is being heard in Zambia today is evidence that President Edgar Lungu is a tolerant leader.

Speaking when he featured on Diamond TV’s COSTA programme yesterday, Chanda said having looked at records from previous regimes, he could authoritatively say President Lungu had the smallest delegations.

“I will just pick the last trip and tell you that he went with four people to Zimbabwe. I think he went with three or four people to Angola, I was with him in Kigali for the inauguration of President [Paul] Kagame and there was myself, honorable [Christopher] Mvunga and special assistant legal, three people. I can tell you, the figures I cannot put there, I have looked at the record, this is the President who has traveled with the smallest ever delegation across the board. I have seen the delegation of all presidents, from president Kaunda, the smallest ever delegation is under this President,” Chanda said.

He also said there was no trip which President Lungu had taken which did not reap benefits for Zambia.

And Chanda said he had chosen to believe Mutati that the IMF program was intact.

Yesterday, the IMF said Zambia had the highest debt levels in Sub-Saharan Africa and described its relationship with this country as “almost a saga”.

But when show host Costa Mwansa asked Chanda whether the IMF had halted talks with government because of President Lungu’s sentiments that the IMF could go if they wished, he said he had chosen to believe that the deal was intact.

“The President made it very clear, peace, security and stability of the country is number one and he made it very clear that in an insecure, unstable, lawless country even the IMF cannot operate, that is the context in which he made that statement. Between those who are making noise and those who are making points, I think I will decide that I will choose to believe Minister Mutati who says that the IMF program and engagement is intact. I want to believe honourable Mutati rather than the pedestrians,” Chanda said.

Meanwhile, Chanda said all the nonsense and rubbish which was being said could not be heard in an undemocratic state.

“The loudest noise you have seen about corruption, governance and this, the louder the voices you hear, the more tolerant the government that is in office, the more tolerant the President that is there. Some of the nonsense that you are hearing today, in a state that is led by an intolerant president, an intolerant government, some of that rubbish you cannot hear it. So that is an expression of an existence of democratic space available to those, even those who want to exercise their right to talk nonsense, that is a measure of freedom of expression,” said Chanda.

“We don’t like what [Chishimba] Kambwili is saying because most of it is just total rubbish. Picking up lies and throwing it in the public space but because those who are in the government have a higher responsibility to govern and make sure that there is social cohesion, unity of purpose and that people tolerate each other, those who have no responsibility like him to put society together can go about ranting in the manner that he has done and you will not expect the President to descent to that level in order for him to say that he is not corrupt.”