NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili has appealed to President Edgar Lungu to reinstate the meal allowances for university students for the sake of the majority poor parents who cannot afford to pay for their children.
In a walk-in interview with Prime TV, Monday, Kambwili warned that if President Lungu allowed the removal of meal allowances, he would see protests which he had never seen before.
“Professor Nkandu Luo, some of those students who come to the university come from villages, in fact, most of the highly-educated people are people who have had a very humble background that their parents cannot even afford to buy them a toffee sweet [and] now, you are asking those parents to find money to feed their children whom you are going to pay tuition and accommodation and projects, to feed themselves? Surely, are we being honest with one another? If you want to see protests that you have never seen in this country, go ahead and remove meal allowances! Please, for the sake of poor people, reinstate meal allowances to the University of Zambia. You know it will now be very difficult for people to trust well-to-do people to be in (public office) positions [because] someone who has suffered will think about other people’s sufferings, but you, President Lungu [and] Nkandu Luo, are behaving as if you have never suffered. You have never tasted suffering before and that is why you are exhibiting this ‘I don’t care type of attitude’,” Kambwili cautioned.
He said the PF government should own up if it had failed to govern the country in a manner it ought to be governed.
“How on earth would a reasonable person say: ‘we are going to send you to school, we will pay for your tuition, we will pay for your accommodation, but we will not feed you?’ Now, you want these children to go to school on an empty tummy and you call yourselves leaders? If you have failed [to govern this country], the best you can do is own up! I was telling you that these monies you are borrowing will end up affecting the social sector of our country, you have reduced the health sector; you have reduced the budget of the agriculture sector; you have reduced the budget to so many things! For instance, last year’s budget for drugs was K1.2 billion, this year you have reduced it to K900 million all in the name of servicing the debt, which debt you have accumulated carelessly, which debt of 30 per cent of it has gone into people’s pockets, buying houses at K2.5 million and registering them in other people’s names. And I want to warn you [that] stop borrowing!” he said.
Kambwili, who is also Roan PF member of parliament, appealed to the Head of State together with Prof Luo to re-instate meal allowances.
“How can a reasonable government budget for K23 billion for repayment of debt against a K12 million budget for the entire Ministry of Health? You can see that this is a government that doesn’t care; this is a government full of people who do not understand that governance is about humanity to care about the people. Please, President Edgar Lungu, reinstate the meal allowance for the students. You are exhibiting a very rare kind of attitude as if you are not President,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kambwili wondered why President Lungu was not holding press conferences to address serious national issues as opposed to letting his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda to speak on such matters.
“No wonder in your two-three years as President, not even one press conference! It is sad! The country wants to hear from you. What’s going on [but] we only hear Amos Chanda talking to the country! Is Amos the President? Did the people of Zambia vote for Amos? The people of Zambia voted for you, President Edgar Lungu, and that’s why I have decided to address you because the buck starts and stops at you. All these issues you can overrule them [because] you have done it before [where] your ministers put the price of maize at K60 and you have overruled and said: ‘I have increased the price to K70′ because you are the president, but why are you failing to overrule your ministers on all these issues affecting our students? All you have to say is that: ‘I cannot fire Chitotela, I don’t want to lose Chitotela the way I lost Chishimba Kambwili.’ Don’t use my name in vein,” said Kambwili.
And Kambwili said the decision of sending Zambians to the Middle East to go and work as drivers and maids was nonsense.