Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda says Zambia will not go to the ends of the earth trying to secure an IMF deal.
And Chanda says “kadanser political parties” will be wasting their time by taking an impeachment motion to Parliament because its failure is “as certain as the sun rising tomorrow”.
Meanwhile, Chanda says President Lungu and his Congolese counterpart Joseph Kabila will discuss, among other things, the refugee crisis, which is straining Zambia’s Treasury.
Speaking when he met media representatives in Lusaka today, Chanda said government did not need an external body instructing it on what to do because President Edgar Lungu had already put in place policies to strengthen the economy.
“The Zambian government, President Lungu and honorable Mwanakatwe, working together as Cabinet know that what is best for Zambia is what they have put across since November 26 when the President addressed the nation and outlined austerity measures. That program has been ongoing and it is yielding results, there is a significant control of expenditure, there is a string adherence to budget credibility and principles embedded in their so to do all those good things, the Zambian government does not need an outsider to tell them that we must remove subsidies, we did remove them without any problem…There is no worry in government whatsoever about the status of the IMF program,” Chanda said.
“We will not go to the ends of the earth to pursue that program. If it comes, well and good, if it doesn’t come, we are proceeding with the credible program which is already delivering results. But the ministers have no worries whatsoever about the status of negotiations.”
He said newly appointed Finance Minister Mwanakatwe would next week be making a policy statement on the IMF position, pressing that government was not going to beg the institution.
Minister of Finance honorable Mwanakatwe will be making a policy statement within the course of next week to outline the control measures that government has put in place with regards to issues coming out of the Auditor General’s report, realignment and restructuring of debt with the Chinese government and the Chinese contractors and also she will touch on the position of the IMF, Zambia negotiations with regards to the balance of payments support program. But I know she will say the IMF negotiations with Zambia will have to be constructed on the basis of what Zambia thinks is right for the country…whatever program shall be agreed upon shall be pro poor therefore strong emphasis on social sectors, health and education, health and sanitation, investments in programs for the poor, social cash transfer, but the government does recognize that fiscal consolidation, realignment of the debt profile and planning for the debt repayment, especially when the bonds are due are matters that will be of priority,” Chanda said adding that Cabinet reshuffles were meant to reenergize government.
And Chanda said calls for impeachment were a waste of time.
“The futility of that motion of no confidence, of impeachment, is just exactly what it is. The President has a comfortable working majority in Parliament so those who want to exercise their democratic right as political kadansers, quite clearly, the defeat of such a motion is assured. It is as sure as it is that the sun rises int he east and sets in the west, that’s how futile that it,” he said.
“But when you have a free and open political space within which political players debate anything and people defend in such levels of debate…if somebody can waste their time like that, then it gives us time to pursue our programs without any credible opposition because then we know that someone is voluntarily wasting their time.”
Meanwhile, Chanda said President Lungu and his Congolese counterpart would discuss the refugee crisis among other things.
“To start with, I thought I would be important to mention that President Kabila will arrive this afternoon for a State visit and will be going back tomorrow…The refugee crisis is worsening, we have in excess of 15,000 refugees from the DRC alone and it is putting a lot of pressure on the Treasury. The President has issued another appeal privately to the donors and there is a conversation going on with the European Union and the American government, particularly the American government have promised to scale up their support towards that,” Chanda said.
Chanda said President Lungu had no problems with the Access to Information Bill going to parliament.
Chanda also said government advised Commonwealth Envoy Professor Gambari to delay his visit to Zambia until the cholera crisis was out of the way.
“Yes the Commonwealth has been in touch with government we advised Professor Gambari to delay his return in February because we were dealing with very crucial issues of the cholera thing so we thought that because his engagement will require several meetings and there were restrictions on that, that contributed to the delayed return of Prof Gambari but I can reveal to you that the Commonwealth has spoken to me and the opposition and Prof Gambari will be returning very soon to commence the processes with a composition of what he is calling the national peace council, he has got some structures,” said Chanda who also justified President Lungu’s ‘ubomba mwibala alya mwibala statement.