National Development Planning Minister Alexander Chiteme says the austerity measures recently announced by government to redeem the country from its current economic challenges are not meant to punish Cabinet ministers.

According to a statement issued by First Secretary for Press at the Zambian Mission to the UN Wallen Simwaka, Chiteme said this when he addressed diplomats and delegates at the ongoing High Level Political Forum at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations (UN).

Chiteme explained that while the austerity measures had affected Cabinet Ministers in some ways, he was still happy to be part of President Lungu’s efforts to finding solutions to the country’s social and economic challenges.

“Government under His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has introduced austerity measures which has affected Ministers. But I must say that I am glad to be part of the solution to the country’s social and economic challenges. The austerity measures will see a reduction in expenditure. We are saying, as the government that the austerity measures will have to trickle down, the austerity measures are, but the beginning of many other fiscal and thrift measures government is to undertake to ameliorate the social and economic benefits for Zambians,” Chiteme said.

Meanwhile, Chiteme noted that it was disheartening that some political leaders in Zambia were advocating for violence.

“Politicians who advocate and perpetrate violence should be condemned because Zambia has been a peaceful country. Politicians should never use violence as a means of gaining power. We shall continue to speak against violence and as Zambians, we should learn a lesson from some other countries that have never known peace. We condemn those who advocate violence and we have not heard opposition political parties condemning violence. We must move away from campaigns of violence so that people should vote for us on merit,” said Chiteme.

Chiteme also discussed a range of policy measures that the PF government was implementing including the criminalization of financial irregularities as revealed by the Auditor General’s report.

The Minister further announced that government had embarked on a programme to strengthen financial laws, which now included jail sentences.

Chiteme is currently in New York where he is attending the High Level Political Forum at the United Nations, which is being held under the theme “Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies.”