UPND Spokesperson Charles Kakoma says it was a mockery for President Edgar Lungu to announce austerity measures the same day he flew to Kenya for a private visit.

And Kakoma has challenged President Lungu to prove he is not corrupt by acting on the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) report and ensuring that public officers cited in the report are brought to book.

Reacting to the adjustments that President Lungu, through Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe, announced where the government initiated new austerity measures aimed at getting government out of its current debt crisis, Kakoma said the announcement was clear admission of the PF’s failure to rule.

“It is also a mockery that Mr Lungu is announcing measures to restrict trips of his government officials on one hand and jumping on the plane to Kenya the same day. What irony? And it is shocking that the trip was absolutely not necessary, especially at a time when he had even lost one of his ministers, Victoria Kalima, May Her Soul Rest in Eternal Peace. Mr Lungu must reduce his trips if the measures he has announced will be meaningful. He is the most expensive when it comes to trips. He has clearly contributed a significant share of the cost in running government. So, it’s very difficult to trust the PF because they have done everything within their limited means to prove their proclaimed lack of vision. Zambians should open their eyes and see. Let them not be a people who have eyes, but cannot see and have ears, but cannot hear. Let Zambians open their eyes and clearly see that the PF are a bunch of jokers and are not taking Zambia anywhere. Zambians have to be vigilant,” Kakoma warned in a press statement, Monday.

“What we have seen following excessive borrowing is that people who entered government as paupers have become extremely rich. They are living in opulence while the majority Zambians are living in perpetual squalor. The PF has lumbered on Zambians numerous taxes and higher electricity tariffs, high fuel prices. They have even brought about a tax on anyone who sinks a bore hole. They have milked us dry. The PF government has not moved Zambians out of poverty and squalor. They have instead made foreigners, whom they are favouring in nearly everything, better than the citizens. It is not difficult to conclude that the PF was a serious curse on us. And Zambians were warned that these guys were not and are not fit to rule. Now, that they have driven us to this level where the country is literally suffocated with debt and have now run out of options, they have taken measures they claim will move the country out of the debt.”

He noted that the PF had escalated the country’s mounting public debt to unsustainable levels.

“How did they (PF) get Zambia to this debt level? When the MMD was leaving office in 2011, total public debt was at $3.5 billion. The PF have moved it to more than $12 billion today. The PF could not listen to any advice. They arrogantly went out to borrow for projects that were meant to prop its political image as a working group. The nation has not forgotten when Mr Lungu arrogantly retorted to reasonable advice to his government to reduce debt contraction that they shall borrow if they don’t have the money in order to make sure that the country moves forward. With unbridled arrogance, Mr Lungu said, ‘…It doesn’t matter if people will talk so much against this.’ So, those who are telling you that, ‘government is borrowing too much, when we borrow, we don’t borrow to eat, we borrow to make sure that there is development and people are living well. That is why we are borrowing money. So, those saying that we can’t borrow, get out!’ Truly, the PF went out to borrow but where has the debt taken the country? Is the country moving forward as claimed by Mr Lungu? Are Zambians living better lives today as a result of the increased debt?” Kakoma asked.

And Kakoma demanded that President Lungu must act on the findings of the latest FIC Report and ensure criminals were punished.

“Recently, the Financial Intelligence Centre produced a damning report that revealed high corruption, bribery and money laundering involving PF ministers and other sympathisers. What we have seen is a scathing attack and vilification of the institution by the PF. They would rather FIC is scrapped than expose their members. And their leader, Mr Lungu, claims he has not seen the report and cannot act on it. Mr Lungu even told the nation that the FIC Report was meant to embarrass his government. Look at their response to serious issues as those raised in the FIC Report. As president, Edgar Lungu has power to call for any government document if he is serious about seeing and acting on it,” stated Kakoma.

“We demand that Mr Lungu and his PF administration act on the FIC Report. He should not look at the faces of those involved. Unless they were doing it for him, Mr Lungu cannot fail to act on the report. Mr Lungu should prove that he is not connected in the plunder matrix exposed in the FIC Report by acting on his ministers and other sympathizers who are mentioned. Allow the investigative agencies to act because the public money that has been looted could have worked to stock our hospitals with medicines.”