UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says newly appointed Finance Minister Bwalya Ng’andu cannot do anything to fix the country’s economy because the whole governance system under PF is rotten.

And Hichilema has instructed members of parliament from his party not to entertain the Constitution Amendment Bill when it is taken to Parliament for approval, and has further appealed to all independent MPs to do the same.

Meanwhile, Hichilema says UPND members of parliament whom the Patriotic Front allegedly hoodwinked into taking part in the National Dialogue Forum after promising them deputy ministerial positions in government have been duped.

Speaking to journalists during a press briefing at his New Kasama residence in Lusaka, Tuesday, Hichilema said the solution to the country’s failing economy did not lie in the change of Finance Ministers but in the democratic change of government, sooner rather than later.

“There is a perception that if you change Ministers of Finance in three years – three of them… have you paid attention? In three years of Mr Lungu in office, there have been three Finance Ministers. Citizens must know the solution does not lie in the change of Finance Ministers. Ifintu fyonse nafibola mu PF (everything is rotten in PF). But the solution does not lie in picking one person and replacing them with another. Isabi ukubola litampila ku mutwe (a fish begins to rot right from the head), so don’t say because Bwalya Ng’andu is now Minister of Finance then things will be better, no! What was said to Bwalya Ng’andu when he was sworn in? ‘go and fix the economy, go and fix the debt mountain’. But yesterday they were saying the economy is okay and there is no debt problem. So they are admitting that there is a debt problem, everything is rotten!? Hichilema said.

“I know Bwalya Ng’andu very well, he’s my friend and he knows I know him well. He and I know each other from a long way, you won’t fix this economy mwana. The economy is beyond redemption, it’s gone! So they will just abuse you to do what they want and then mess your professional career. You will end up like [former Finance Minister] Margaret [Mwanakatwe]. As someone I have known for a long time that’s my little advice to you, there’s nothing you can change because the fundamentals are broken everywhere. Therefore, we should agree as citizens that the solution does not lie in making small changes here and there because the whole system is gone. The solution lies in the democratic change of government sooner rather than later.”

Hichilema further explained that the positive reaction from the international market forces, following the appointment of Ng’andu as Finance Minister was only a knee jerk which would soon come to an end after the international financial market understands the rot in the Zambian economy.

“This is what I told Zambians that immediately UPND and HH are sworn in, the Kwacha will appreciate, even other financial instruments will improve. There is a commodity called perception. If you have someone who appears to be capable, the market reacts positively, and they will react when UPND is sworn in – the very morning, afternoon the Kwacha will appreciate. PF were arguing and saying ‘it’s not possible’. Now they are celebrating, they are saying ‘no, immediately Bwalya Ng’andu was appointed, the bonds improved’. Bonds is actually is a monetary financial instrument, so you see the contradiction in PF? But at least I have won that debate that when there I a perception of integrity, there is confidence that will arise and you see this confidence in instruments such as the bonds,” Hichilema explained

“So what has happened is what we call in the financial world, a knee jerk reaction. You have a knee jerk reaction, which means an initial positive reaction. But because it’s a knee jerk reaction, sooner or later, the dust will settle and the bond will show their true position that there is no ability by Bwalya to mend this economy, it’s broken. The market will settle to understand that this economy is broken. When you have a debt position of US$20 billion and your economy is US$25 billion, you have no headroom, you are broken and you cannot change things. The only solution is to change government. New government of the UPND is what I am recommending.”

And Hichilema further directed UPND members of parliament to reject the NDF resolutions in Parliament.

“We must force PF to withdraw the entire Constitutional Amendment Bill from Parliament immediately. Not portions of it should be allowed. Just withdraw that whole bill because we know that if we allow you to take it on the floor of the House, you will dupe some MPs and you will get a 2/3 majority to open the Constitutional amendments, then when you are on the floor of the House, you will reintroduce even deputy ministers, tiziba (we know). We know that you will bring back the things that citizens don’t want. Just withdraw it. If you don’t withdraw it, we citizens must act together to force PF to withdraw this bill. Connected to this, I am directing all UPND member of parliament not to entertain this bill on the floor of the House in case PF forces it onto the floor of the House. I am appealing to independent members of parliament, I am appealing to well-meaning PF members of parliament not to support this bill in case PF maintains their arrogance,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hichilema said UPND MPs who supported the NDF resolutions had been duped by PF.

“We need to think through what PF is doing, they are playing on our minds just as they played on the minds of some of the MPs by enticing them to support them in this NDF thing and then promising them the position of deputy ministers. But they’ve already broken that promise to those MPs, so how do you think they can keep a promise to you? They’ve broken the promise to those that they used to get NDF by now telling them ‘okay, you came to NDF, we promised you to be deputy ministers but the people have said no. So we are withdrawing that offer we made to you’. So if they can deceive their friends who they are sitting together with in Parliament, how about a marketeer? How about a taxi driver? They won’t live up to any commitments.”

Hichilema further encouraged Zambians to continue fighting government’s efforts to send the Financial Intelligence Centre into extinction by reducing it to a small department in the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC).

“Let me give you another danger in this hoodwinking that the PF are engaged in over the Constitutional making process, they want to dissolve the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC). You and I can guess why, it is because FIC in their 2017 report disclosed that over USD $400 million was stolen by PF leaders and their associates. In the 2018 report, FIC indicated that basically over USD $601 million has been stolen by the same people who you see now driving a Rolls Royce. A guy who was just a policeman three years ago, today they own a 100 plus property, today they now drive a Rolls Royce. Do you people know the cost of a Rolls Royce? Where would a Constable get the resources to buy a Rolls Royce, a Jaguar? This is your money, this is the money that FIC is talking about. So they want to make the FIC a department under the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC). But DEC is moribund, it was their before FIC, why was it not producing annual reports and information about corruption as FIC is doing? They want to kill FIC so that you do not hear about the USD $1 billion which they have stolen. We should say no to it,” said Hichilema.