UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma says it was folly of President Edgar Lungu to denounce the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when he knew that his government had no capacity to deal with economic challenges brought about by himself.

And Kakoma has condemned the tendency by government officials to criticize diplomats whenever they offered advice on governance affairs.

In a statement, Kakoma said Zambia needs IMF.

“President Edgar Lungu has been made to eat his own vomit by going back to beg from the International Monetary Fund after initially castigating them! Today, President Lungu is now kneeling before the IMF begging for money. It was folly of President Lungu to have denounced the IMF when he knew that his government had no capacity to deal with economic challenges his government had brought upon the country. The IMF last week advised Zambia to cut its spending as a way of reducing mounting debt. At the end of it latest staff visit to Zambia, the Fund stressed the need for large, front-loaded and sustained fiscal adjustment that would help set the country’s debt on a downward path and reduce domestic arrears,” Kakoma stated.

He urged President Lungu to always sober up when addressing stakeholders.

“At the time the PF administration had incarcerated UPND party president Hakainde Hichilema, Mr Lungu told the IMF that: ‘if they say Lungu has gone out of the way, I will refer them to Article 31 of the Constitution, which gives me the power. Everything we do, we consult, and I want to be remembered for sticking to the law and be with it to the expectations of the people. If the IMF wants to go because of this, let them go! If the IMF feels we have gone beyond norms of good governance and democracy….they are free to go!’ Mr Lungu was justifying the invocation of Article 31 of the Constitution which, upon ratification by Parliament, led to enforcement of Cap 112 of the laws of Zambia” Kakoma stated.

“As a party, we have noted this behaviour by Mr Lungu to dress-down stakeholders, which has permeated into the rank and file of his administration resulting in a situation where even public officers, like Permanent Secretaries, are attacking foreign diplomats. Just last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji, together with his Information and Broadcasting counterpart, Dora Siliya, and her Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo took turns in chiding German Ambassador to Zambia Achim Burkart over observations he read on behalf of the European Union representatives to Zambia.”

And Kakoma stated that it was wrong for government officials to denounce stakeholders’ advice on how best to control the economy, among other governance issues.

“This was totally unnecessary. The donors were merely advising the PF government to stick to the rule of law, tackle the mounting debt and seriously fight corruption. The rule of law includes respecting court orders. The Constitutional Court, for example, ruled that the Ministers who illegally stayed in office after the dissolution of Parliament in 2016 should refund the money they got from the Treasury. The PF government has refused to obey the court ruling. We would like to advise Mr Lungu to make sure that the Ministers, who stayed in office illegally towards the 2016 elections, pay back the money they got if the IMF is to seriously consider lending Zambia the money government has asked for,” stated Kakoma.

“There is no way this administration can access the money they want from the IMF when they have failed to recover the monies paid to these Ministers even after the Constitutional Court has ruled so. We further advise Mr Lungu to make sure his directive to his Ministers to remove his party cadres from bus stations and markets is implemented if he truly needs the IMF to come to his aid. There is no way this government is going to get the US $1.3 billion it has been pursuing from the IMF in the absence of good governance.”