National Democratic Congress leader Chishimba Kambwili has questioned President Edgar Lungu’s 34-man delegation to India when the country is under austerity measures.
According to well-placed government sources, the President travelled with four different advance parties, which included all his State House advisors, three Cabinet ministers, seven ministry officials and permanent secretaries, several public media journalists, a cook, waiter and bedroom attendant, among others.
Recently when he travelled to Kasama, President Lungu said he could not stop travelling because austerity measures do not affect his office.
Below is a list of President Lungu’s delegation to India
1. President Edgar Lungu
2. Freedom Sikazwe, Presidential Affairs Minister
3. Kaizer Zulu – Special Assistant to the President (Political)
4. Hibeene Mwiinga – Special Assistant to the President (Economic and Development Affairs)
5. Isaac Chipampe – Special Assistant to the President (Press and Public Relations)
6. Chewe Bowa – Commissioner of Police (Special Duties) State House
7. Presidential Physician
8. Chanda Chisanga – ADC to the President
Advance party A:
9. Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Malanji
10. Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Christopher Yaluma
11. Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Richard Musukwa
Advance party B:
12. Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Chalwe Lombe
13. Ministry of Commerce permanent secretary Kayula Siame
14. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chief of protocol Brig Gen John Bulawayo
15. Senior Private Secretary to the President Daniel Siwo
16. State House accountant Give Silwamba
Advance party C:
17. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Assistant Director (development cooperation) Ikayi Mushinge
18. Ministry of Commerce Chief economist Aaron Mutale
Advance party D:
19. Team leader Lungu Geza
20. BSL Sichalwe Mathias
21. Technician Chiselebwe Richard
22. Staff officer Kalusha Morgan
23. Staff officer Bwale Owen
24. Staff officer Mbewe Joseph
25. Staff officer Muyembe Barbra
26. Communications officer Frank Mporokoso
27. Senior personal secretary Muyunda Mbanga
30. Bedroom attendant
31. Zambia Daily Mail Editor Angela Chishimba
32. Presidential photographer Eddie Mwanaleza
33. ZNBC camera person Tom Njobvu
34. ZNBC reporter Hector Simfukwe
Chipampe told journalists recently that during this visit, the Head of State is expected to sign six memoranda of understanding on cooperation between Zambia and India in Geology, Mining, Defense, Telecommunications, Diplomacy and Elections.
“The President said he is happy to visit India and that the visit is a culmination of an invitation by India’s President Ram Nath Kovind when he visited Zambia last year,” stated Chipampe.
But commenting on the development, Kambwili described President Lungu as a tourist.
“This man is not serious with running the country. This man is a tourist. There’s no way that under austerity measures, you can travel with 34 people to go to India on a state visit, there’s no way! In fact, this state visit is not necessary under austerity measures. You have got 3,000 nurses that have been posted who cannot report to work because you are not paying hem, then you carry a delegation of 34 people to India? This man is a disaster to this country and the earlier the Zambian people realise that we have a disaster in this man, the better,” Kambwili said.
“This man, all he wants is to acquire wealth and by the time he leaves office he wants to be able to say he travelled the whole world. What is so important about this state visit? They are just going to see tourist sites and speak to his colleague there who he can speak to on the phone. In any case, the people who organise donor funding and all that are ambassadors. That’s why we have got an ambassador in India. Do we need the President to be traveling like a headless chicken all the time?”
Kambwili said State House was supposed to lead the way in implementing austerity measures.
“A bag of mealie meal is now costing K160 per 25Kg bag and the President is traveling all the time, wasting tax payers’ money which money they can use to subsidise so that the price of mealie meal can come down. Anyway, when God wants to remove a leader, he curses that leader. So whatever he is doing is an act of God so that the people of Zambia can realise that we have got a wrong man. And I have warned the Zambians that start talking the way the South Africans talk, like the way the Europeans talk. You can’t allow a President, he is even daring you that ‘austerity measures don’t extend to my office’, what nonsense!” exclaimed Kambwili.
“When there are austerity measures, you expect State House to be in the forefront, we expect State House to tell us that for arguments sake, ‘previously, we were spending K20,000 per annum, we have reduced that to K2,000. Fuel at State House we were spending K1,000,000, we have reduced that to K100,000. The President was traveling so frequently that we have reduced his traveling to only once or twice in a year and I expect that core ministries and spending agencies must do the same. But the man goes in public and says that? What nonsense! And now he says for you to get development it depends on how hard you cry? Surely, nangu ku tuka abantu (even if you mean to insult people), the people who manage this man, who are they and what do they tell him?”