Democratic Party president Harry Kalaba says he resisted the temptation to de-gazette land in the Forest Reserve 27 when he served as Lands Minister, saying it did not serve the interest of the people.

And Kalaba has charged that the PF will still lose the 2021 general election even if they bought houses for every Zambian, saying the people have stopped listening to them.

Speaking when he featured on Radio Phoenix’s Let the People Talk programme, Tuesday, Kalaba said it was selfish for government officials to share land in Forest Reserve No. 27.

“…Once you do that, you put our water on trial, and I declined to de-gazette Forest 27 when I was lands minister. Our leaders surprise me. There are certain things that you don’t do when you are in leadership. That Forest 27 was not created last year. Dr Kaunda knew about it, Chiluba knew about it. Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda and Micheal Sata knew about it, and they did not tamper with it. Not because they did not want land, but they said ‘no, the nation or the country is bigger than our own interest’,” Kalaba said.

“That’s why even when I was lands minister, I resisted the temptation to go that route. I am surprised that, that land has been shared. In this country, we don’t respect even what we should respect because they say ‘I have the powers’. I think it is wrong! It is very regrettable that, that land was not given to ordinary Zambians, but those that have ‘names’ in this country. That’s why it is sad; that spirit of selflessness.”

And Kalaba emphasized that the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 of 2019 was not attainable.

He observed that the PF counted on Bill 10 to win the 2021 general elections by misusing government resources but said he would not allow President Lungu to stand for a third term.

“A lot of stakeholders have expressed their views on Bill 10, and I have spoken on it several times, and I have said it is not attainable. It is not serving any interest to the people of Zambia and I have gone further to say that, just show me issues in Bill 10 that are pro-poor because it is unfair, even to talk about Bill Number 10 right now when the price of mealie meal is K150, is misplaced priorities. Right now, we should all congregate together and see how best we can cushion an ordinary Zambian on the streets. That Bill is meant to propagate the PF’s stay in power because ministers want to still remain in office, even when Parliament is dissolved,” Kalaba said.

“It will end up exactly as we have ended up today. I don’t think you have to be a magician to understand that those in power are counting on Bill 10. They are counting on misusing government’s resources to help them win elections. But what they forget is that PF, even if they bought houses for every Zambian today, they would still lose elections! Because people of Zambia are no longer listening to the PF, with or without Bill 10, PF are going! There’s no choice. The President is aspiring for a third term and it will not work; we will not allow that! What has he done to be given another five years?”

And Kalaba, who is also a former Foreign Affairs Minister, predicted that Zambia would fail to pay back its ballooning debt.

“Our (total) debt burden is standing roughly at US $20 billion dollars and Zambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is at US$ 22 billion. We have borrowed even beyond the recommended threshold of COMESA! We have a huge problem in paying back that money because what we are producing, and what we have borrowed, is far much more. If we fail to pay that money, we will end up like Argentina who have problems with paying back. So, I don’t know what the PF are doing about this,” said Kalaba.