Peoples’ Alliance for Change president Andyford Banda says ZNBC cannot be lucrative by operating as a ruling party vuvuzela.

Speaking when he featured on UNZA Radio’s Lusaka Star program, Monday, Banda said ZNBC would be closed due to lack of operational funds if its bias towards government did not change.

“I have never been on ZNBC for Sunday Interview, except during elections because people want to seem to be fair during elections. That’s why those people are not being paid, they think it’s an accident? It’s not an accident, they are not doing the right thing! People cannot just be watching the government always, ‘the government is doing very well, the government is doing very well, the government is doing very well’…that’s boring come on! That’s very boring! People want to hear different things, that’s how God created us. So as long as they don’t do the right thing, ‘bazachivala chi ZNBC chija’ (they will close ZNBC) I am telling you, they won’t even have money to open that place. A few people that are still sacrificing to produce programs will stop! The only way they are going to succeed is to ensure that everyone is welcome, it should be a national broadcaster, not a PF broadcaster! If there is any opposition political party that have gone there, apart from just one that has gone there, it’s those that are vuvuzelas of the PF, those are the ones who go and appear on Sunday Interview,” Banda said.

“So, make ZNBC a public broadcaster, if I am a business man and a politician and I want to advertise my business, let me advertise without scrutinizing who is advertising and say it’s Andyford Banda, no, he wants to grow his business so that he can start fighting the government, that mentality is not going to take that institution anywhere. Because they scrutinize everything, there is no liberalism, it’s like there is a big brother watching whatever they are doing upstairs there…I don’t know if I can work for such an institution my friend. Now talking about media, today we have a lot of media houses, UNZA radio plus a lot of them that have opened up, so ZNBC cannot continue to behave as if it’s the only media to listen to, I mean, PAC is known now almost country wide, did we advertise it on ZNBC? No, we didn’t, we have been using private media, so please move with time.”

And Banda said President Edgar Lungu did not address real issues affecting the country during his address to parliament on Friday.

“I would tell you that I think the President did not address real issues. He spoke about good governance when he was talking about the application of national values and principles. How can the president talk about good governance without talking about the Auditor General’s report? Because the latest Auditor General’s report and the financial intelligence report highlighted a lot of irregularities that have been happening in government transactions but that was not addressed in his speech, it was just on the surface, he didn’t go deep to address real issues. The people of Zambia expected the president to address those critical issues, what is he going to do to ensure that in the next Auditor General’s report there we don’t see a lot of misappropriation and misapplication of funds in government,” he said.

Banda challenged government to explain the benefits of presidential trips which President Lungu had been embarking on.

“The President talked about being patriotic, being patriotic means that people are responsible. You cannot have a president going on a trip to China and is carrying 68 people. If you look at a lot of presidents, my President Mr Edgar Lungu is the most travelled president compared to any other president. Now, president Lungu last week was in South Africa meeting president Ramaphosa of South Africa, how many times has he travelled to South Africa? I think what we need, as a response to those trips, they need to give us a schedule to say that trip to wherever. They can remove inauguration ceremonies and then put economic benefits that those trips have brought to this country, they need to say he travelled to South Africa on such a day, purpose; signing bilateral agreement or Zambia -South Africa business forum, economic benefit; this company xxy limited has invested in Zambia, has employed so much people, that’s my challenge to government. They should respond to the trips and show to the Zambian people what economic benefits this country has benefited, which we cannot see, because this country has got no money and we seem to just be spending anyhow. Look at this, the president went to China and I think if I am not mistaken, he carried about 68 people. Now, economy class ticket to China cost about $1,300 which is about K13,000. So now let’s assume that maybe 40 out of that 68, flew using economy ticket multiply by 13, you find that’s about K520,000. Let’s the other 20 flew using business ticket, which is about K25,000 multiply by 20 people, that’s another K500,000, so just air tickets, before you talk about allowances, before you talk about food and accommodation, it is giving you K1 million. Now this is not money we can afford to be spending anyhow, this country has got no money, people are dying of hunger, this money can build a market for traders,” he said.

Meanwhile, Banda said government’s continued introduction of taxes was negatively affecting citizens as their income remained stagnant.

“Already it means that I have to register my borehole and pay about K833. You know we have a water problem and yet you want to introduce taxes on things that would help to ease the water challenges, it doesn’t make sense. One of the ways to develop the country is to relax the taxes so that people can be encouraged to do these things on their own. Because if for example, I have got a small farm somewhere and Lusaka Water or whichever water utility company is not there, I mean I am helping Lusaka water if I drill a borehole. But now I have to pay for helping government? It doesn’t make sense,” said Banda.