UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the mines are telling him they can’t wait for him to get elected into office because he will clean up the mess in the sector.

And Hichilema has promised to reduce Value Added Tax (VAT) from the current 16 per cent to around 10 per cent once elected into office.

Speaking when he featured on Radio Christian Voice’s Chat Back programme, Thursday, Hichilema warned that the new mining tax regime would not only affect mining companies but Zambians at large.

“We have already recommended ourselves that as UPND, our major [focus] will be to revert to VAT and then we will reduce the VAT rate from 16 per cent down to around 10 per cent. And you will see that the cost of goods arising from taxes will come down and when it comes down, it means your cost of living comes down as well. So many businesses are owed so much money by the PF arising from the abuse of the laws. They owe the companies as PF close to a billion dollars. One company alone is owed 400 million dollars [but] I shall not mention that company because they may get a sting. Now you collect money from people, the companies pay and you spend that money in by-elections, you spend it in flying around in different countries, everyday you are in the air. Then when the companies fulfil their obligations, they now discharge the documentation and say ‘refund us our money’ and you say ‘no you wait.’ Where is the money? It has been eaten, it has been spent in travelling, it has been spent in corruption and spent in by-elections,” Hichilema said.

“Taxation is not affecting mining companies only. The tax changes that were made by the PF government wrongly do not affect mining companies only because this is the impression being created by the PF. The mining sector does not operate in isolation, the sector has suppliers of goods and services, companies owned by your cousins, your nephew, your uncles, Zambian citizens. It is true that the PF government has lost its ploy on the taxation. They have given Zambians a poisonous chalice of a gift of a high tax burden in 2019.”

He said the mines were telling him they couldn’t wait for him to come into office.

“By the way, we in the UPND are already ahead. We are ready to take over this country. We are already ahead [and] our planning is far much ahead and that is why you are seeing me answering to your questions very clearly and quickly because we are clear in our minds [and] in our vision on what needs to be done in order to lift this country out of poverty that we are experiencing and the PF has brought us into [this]. Even the Mining companies are talking to us, they are saying ‘HH we are waiting for you to come, we are waiting for you,” Hichilema said.

Hichilema said when UPND forms government, it will refinance all the debt.

He also insisted that he would sell the luxury presidential jet once elected into office.

“They are starting an airline [but] airlines don’t make money. South African airline is struggling, they don’t make money, the Swiss airline was closed because Switzerland which is one of the richest countries in the world could not afford an airline because it’s expensive [but] here that is when people want to start an airline. When we come in, we are going to restructure this debt, we are going to basically refinance it, we are going to stop borrowing recklessly, whenever we borrow, we are going to borrow at a lower cost because they are getting Kaloba so that they get commissions, so that they can get corruption money out of borrowing, we are going to save money [and] we are going to sale unnecessary assets and the first thing we are going to sale within a few months of being in office is the presidential jet. And this is what we are talking about, PF has bankrupted this country. You cannot run a country like this where you found the reserves at US $3 billion in 2016 [but] now it’s US $1.6 billion,” Hichilema said.

Meanwhile, Hichilema said no past government had been as corrupt as PF.

“There is no fight against corruption. The question is why? The levels of corruption in PF are unprecedented. We have never seen corruption like this. I am old enough to remember that there has never been any government that has been as corrupt as the PF. This is the worst ever. Secondly, there can’t be a fight against corruption because if the PF put a serious fight against corruption, they will be fighting themselves [and] that is why there is no fight against corruption. What is there is just symbolism. The problem today is that the president is interfering to cover friends and probably State House because of the corruption going on. But I want to say to you [that] the money that has been taken which belongs to Zambians will be returned to the people of Zambia through our new measures,” said Hichilema.