Parliamentary Chief Whip Brian Mundubile says calls for early elections in Zambia on the pretext that the PF has failed to manage the economy are unfounded because most of the challenges that government is dealing with were inherited from previous administrations.
And Mundubile says the PF government had managed to drastically improve Zambia’s road network infrastructure in their eight-year reign more than all other previous administrations combined.
In an interview, Mundubile, who is also the PF’s chairperson for legal affairs, explained that the country’s Constitution was clear about dates for elections and that there was no clause in the amended Constitution that supported early elections.
His remarks come in the wake of heightened calls by various stakeholders for an early election to usher in a new administration that would help deal with Zambia’s economic crisis, largely characterised by liquidity challenges and huge external debt servicing.
“The power to set the date for elections by the President was removed by this Constitution. These are some of the milestones that President Lungu has made in Constitution-making. We are the first country in this region to set the date for elections, so nobody is in limbo. Those days, it used to be a preserve of the President, he could just wake up and say ‘the elections will be next week.’ Now, the date for elections is set in the Constitution, so those calls for early elections are unfounded. And you know, when people are talking about failure and gauging the strength of the party, is it by how many social media likes that you gauge a party’s strength? It’s very simple, the strength of a party is measured by elections. So, if you wanted to know how weak or strong PF is, just go back 12 months or 15 months and look at the elections that have been there and then you will be able to see. How have we have been performing. Because the people speak to the ballot,” Mundubile said.
“So, it’s not so much about how many people are responding on WhatsApp. You can have 100 camps and they are speaking through technology and you are given an impression that two million people like what you say, but where are those people when it comes to voting? The strength of the party is measured through elections. So, for somebody to say, ‘PF has failed!’ I don’t know what parameter they are using. The power of a political party is measured through by-elections. So, if you want to know whether a party is losing its popularity or not, you look at an average by-elections: how many wards have we won in Western Province? Kafue by-elections; Chilanga? These are some of the things that you look at in gauging whether or not as a political party you are growing or not.”
Mundubile explained how the PF had been fulling all its promises to Zambians as per its party manifesto.
“We campaigned on the party manifesto. If you go to our party manifesto, one of the things we spoke about, first of all, was that, we are a pro-poor party. And as a pro-poor party, we looked at policies that were going to promote the living standards of our people. One of the key things that we looked at, we looked at issues to do with early childhood education because we knew that education is an equalizer. For as long as our people in rural areas are not educated, you can’t fight poverty from the top by distributing money…no, no, no! You need to fight it from the bottom. The education system as it is now, right from Independence, that record is unmatched, go an check how many early childhood training centres we have opened. How many teachers have been employed in the areas of early childhood? Go and look at how many primary schools have been built. How many basic schools, secondary schools, universities just as one,” Mundubile explained.
“Secondly, when you look at health care, we are talking about universal health care and as a party, we want to introduce health facilities every five kilometers in the villages and go and look at the records, it’s unprecedented! First of all, 650 health posts introduced besides mini-hospitals and general hospitals. So, when people pick one small example and want to run with it…go back and check, what does the party manifesto say? When you look at the issues of more money in people’s pockets, look at the alternative budget from the UPND, for instance, look at the manifesto from the UPND; they want to tax even these people that wash cars! When we are talking about more money in the pocket, do you know that we don’t capture these people in our tax regime? What does that mean? They are walking away with the money, they make the money and they keep all of it. So, people should not run with words, literally, because just by avoiding to tax a kaponya, who is selling in the streets, we have put more money in their pockets. But our friends are saying: ‘we want to come and tax them’.”
And Mundubile argued that the PF had managed to drastically improve Zambia’s road network infrastructure in record-breaking time.
“Look at our policies in the social sectors like Social Cash Transfer and go back in the years to find out what happened before we came into power. Look at the road infrastructure; you are proud now to own a car and drive around countrywide, just look around you! So, the definition of failure, we need to re-look at the definition of failure. We haven’t done everything, yes, and we can’t do everything. Our portfolio in terms of infrastructure development, we have beaten the record that Zambia recorded for 50 years in seven years! Look at the airport infrastructure, look at the school infrastructure, the road infrastructure…name it,” he argued.
Meanwhile, Mundubile said not all socio-economic problems Zambia faced were as a result of the PF’s supposed failure, but were inherited by previous governments, which the current one was trying hard to fix.
“Some of these problems were not created by ourselves. For instance, debt; we had to borrow because the problems were piling up and you can’t develop a country, which is not opened up by road infrastructure. The investors are saying, ‘we want to go to that falls, we want to put power there, but is the country open? How many communication towers have we planted countrywide? Today, you are proud to talk to your grandmother, you don’t have to panic and jump on a bus because you heard your grandmother was sick, you can just call her and ask what the problem is. That is our pride, our record in terms of development of this country is unprecedented! So, people need to be factual,” said Mundubile.