UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma says it is strange that while the Ministry of Finance is asking citizens to tighten their belts owing to the ailing economy, President Edgar Lungu is loosening his; gallivanting around the world.

And Kakoma says government is behaving like an ostrich, putting its head in the sand by denying that there is no corruption in Zambia.

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 to India.

But in an interview, Kakoma said the 34-member delegation to India was unjustifiable, wondering why President Lungu was not practicing some restraint.

“This government is plunging this country into financial chaos. And the source of all this chaos is the government’s extravagance. Even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is saying that the problem in Zambia is the non-adherence to the fiscal policy, that is exactly what is happening. The Minister of Finance will announce the austerity measures telling all of us to fasten our belts, meanwhile, the President is loosening his belt carrying all that delegation,” Kakoma said.

“All those need allowances and they are going to live in expensive hotels. The economy is beyond redemption. And because of this extravagance and this financial indiscipline, we will see inflation rising, the cost of living will continue going up and we will see the pressure on the exchange rate struggling. And because we are an import dependent country, with a depreciating Kwacha, we will see the prices of goods and services rise. Those are the things people are complaining about. Their recklessness and expenditure is causing havoc and misery to this economy. They don’t understand the economics. They don’t know what they are doing. So Lungu himself, as the number one Chief Financing Officer must lead by example. He can’t tell everybody to tighten their belts meanwhile he is busy gallivanting all over the world. That cannot be allowed! He is setting a trend that is why his ministers are also busy flying all over the world because they learn from the president saying ‘It is okay for them to fly out’. Everybody else must remain in Zambia and suffer.”

And commenting on Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya’s remarks that corruption was being exaggerated in Zambia, Kakoma said it did not make sense to deny a visible problem.

“To think that the corruption in Zambia is being exaggerated is to behave like an ostrich putting its head in the sand and thinking that it is hiding when the whole body is exposed. The better the government admitted that corruption is a cancer, it is worsening in Zambia, the better, so that they tell what we are going to do in the rising cases of corruption. In any case, it is a serious contradiction that the minister (Dora Siliya) is saying that corruption is being exaggerated when the President himself (President Edgar Lungu) admitted that there is corruption in Zambia and that some of his ministers are corrupt. He has said that, he is on record. So on one hand they admit that there is corruption, on the other hand they say there is no corruption. So which is which? Meaning that the government is trying to hide something,” Kakoma said.

He said there were a lot of corruption cases which had not been solved.

“It is such kind of careless statements that is making people believe that the government is trying to hide something. Information is in public domain that corruption is on the rise. Transparency International of Zambia (TIZ) for example have released several reports this year, last year and other years indicating that the corruption is on the rise. And the corruption perception index is worsening. Recently, we had the 48 houses that the government said they don’t know who the owner is, obviously people cannot believe such a story. And the issue concerning Mukula tree, up to now the government has not explained where the money for Mukula is. People are still being seen carrying Mukula trees so people are suspicious that those in the corridors of power are the ones that are doing these things. They are untouchable!” exclaimed Kakoma.