Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) executive director Lewis Mwape says Zambians should forget about development in the country so long as President Edgar Lungu continues to be in State House.

Mwape told News Diggers in an interview that President Lungu was not concerned about the wellbeing of Zambians but was preoccupied with privileges that come with the Presidency.

Mwape said it was unacceptable for the Head of State to use trips to gratify cadres because it was putting a strain on the budget.

“A Presidential trip is an official trip which requires that only those that are relevant are recruited on a trip. We understand that the UN meeting in question was aimed at discussing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), so what were the PF cadres doing there? What was their role in fostering or approving sustainable projects? I think for me, this is a question of how we have gone down as a country in terms of protecting the interest of the people. There is so much thinking of ‘how much do I get from this’ amongst those in power, from every trip they want to eat. So it becomes a business in government to say that the only time we can officially provide money for cadres is when there is a Presidential trip, using the Presidential discretion to carry whoever is supposed to be carried on the trip. Whoever he thinks should be on the trip and this way of gratifying our cadres is making our budget to be put under pressure which is very bad,” Mwape said.

“When you look at the economic outlook of our country, you need a President that thinks he is a President, you need a president who understands that he’s there to serve the people. You don’t need a President who thinks that he’s there to eat and this is what we are seeing. President Lungu thinks that he’s there at the helm of this country to eat without even thinking about other people. There are a lot of institutions that need help in this country. Look for example the amount of money that was used on just this trip that everyone is talking about, imagine if it was used to redeem the education needs of the vulnerable groups of people in our society. And then we are seeing crocodile tears from the First Lady. Remember when she went to Kamwala special education training college, we saw those crocodile tears, she was just pretending that she was sorry for those people when she wasn’t even sorry. So when you look at that you see that this country is going nowhere as long as we have people that do not consider prioritising the needs of the majority citizens,” Mwape said.

Meanwhile, Mwape urged citizens to scrutinize politicians before deciding who to vote for.

“We must actually forget about development as long as a person like Edgar is in State House. It is also a call to the Zambian people that whenever we are given an opportunity to elect leaders, it is not about that who whistles the highest that we must put in power, tecimwelafye ati iyo abakumwesu [it’s not just about someone you are coming from the same place with]. I think we must now critically ensure that we assess those that we are handing power to as citizens because we the citizens are the ones with power. I think we are irresponsibly handing over power to people who are responsible enough to look at the affairs of the country. All we need to see is that if we have people who are careful and also respect the citizens, they could come out and say that this what happened, this is how much we spent. But they are not talking about how much they spend…okay they didn’t spend K17 million, but how much did they spend? Where is the document? That information must be given to the public, otherwise we are doomed as a country,” said Chanda.