National Restoration Party (NAREP) president Elias Chipimo has advised President Edgar Lungu to emulate his Tanzanian counterpart and lead by example in ensuring austerity measures achieve their intended purpose.

And Chipimo has noted that the suffering of the people cannot be ignored, saying solution is to recognize that the country needs a different kind of leadership away from polarized politics.

He was commenting on President Lungu’s remarks that he cannot stop traveling unless he is incapacitated because the country gains a lot from his local and international trips.

In an interview, Monday, the NAREP leader said the current government’s message of reduced expenditure could only be more reflective if the Head of State leads the way in the implementation of austerity measures.

“It’s his prerogative if he wants to travel, that’s entirely up to him but if he wants this country to turn a corner, if he wants the discipline that he is trying to instill in his officials, then the best way is to lead by example. We have seen with President Magufuli (Tanzania) that leading by example, especially when it comes to cutting down on expenditure, is always more reflective when the Head of State leads the way. So it’s something really that we would encourage him to think about but perhaps, because he doesn’t seem to believe that there is a crisis, perhaps he doesn’t want to believe that people are suffering under this economy,” Chipimo said.

“Maybe he is pretending not to be aware that there is a problem but given that these leaders that we have, particularly in Zambia, are always monitoring and listening to conversations, listening to what people are doing, checking on them, he surely must be aware that the suffering is real and it would go a long way in addressing the indiscipline that we have when it comes to expenditure if he was to lead by example.”

He said it is unacceptable that messages of tightened expenditure are being spread while the President is displaying excesses of a rich country.

“This is because his words would ring true and not hollow because you can’t be telling people that they need to tighten [their belts], we need to have prioritization of expenditure but we are only looking at essential expenditure. You can’t be sending that message out and at the same time displaying the excesses of a country that has lots of money when in reality there is hunger, there is unemployment. Look at the Copperbelt University which has remained closed! You have meal allowances being withdrawn. All of these are measures that are being expected to be borne by the general population. In the meantime, our President is living large and travelling to as many places as he can,” Chipimo said.

“Let him travel, let him see what is going on, it is a cost to the country but as Head of State, he actually has got to know what’s going on. Now if he is doing it purely for purposes of campaign, I hope the people will see it as just a cynical exercise to bolster his popularity but the reality speaks louder than an economy which is causing people to go hungry, which is causing people to be unemployed. Those things speak louder than the Head of State turning up at a rally. So I think that the big issue here is: what are we doing as ordinary Zambians to recognize that we need a different kind of leadership in Zambia?”

He said Zambians would have a say on President Lungu’s leadership style in 2021.

“If he wants to continue to ignore the suffering of the people and live a good life because he happens to be President of this country, then that’s really up to him to decide but at the end of the day, the Zambian people must be able to pass their verdict on this kind of leadership in 2021,” said Chipimo.