UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says there is no money in the country such that even people who used to keep resources under their mattresses now have flat ones.

And Hichilema says young men are scared to marry because there is no assurance that they can feed a family.

Meanwhile, Hichilema says Ministry of Information permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo was fired for being truthful.

Speaking at an end of year briefing, Monday, Hichilema said the country was completely broke.

“There is absolutely no money in our bank accounts, citizens’ account, there is no money. If you keep money under a mattress, that mattress now is flat. Before, it used to bulge because you used to keep money under a mattress now it is flat because there is no money to keep under the mattress,” Hichilema said.

“There is nothing. We have seen a situation where PF found a bag of mealie meal at K30, now it is K175 but your incomes have gone down…I have never seen as an adult in this country the economy performing so poorly than what we experienced in 2019.There is simply nothing that you can point at that this is positive. Starting with hunger, our citizens are hungry. How can anyone say they are leading a country and people are dancing to this devilish Dununa Reverse song when people are hungry and you will wake up in the morning saying you are leading people, what are you leading?”

And Hichilema said young men were afraid to marry.

“We have seen homes breaking because of economic distress. Imisepela tamule upa. Muletina ukupa this is not a joke, mwana wa bantu ukamulete munganda uza mu dyesa chani? Wasala ndiwe nkungulume koma kukwatila ufuna. Uzamudyesa chani? Uzamuvalika chani? (Youths are scared of marrying because they don’t have money to feed and clothe their partners. In the end, you are forced to remain a bachelor even though you would love to marry),” Hichilema said.

“Wives are beginning to think that their husbands don’t care for them anymore but husbands are trying very hard, single mothers are trying very hard, it is very very difficult for them. Someone cuts a salary by 20 per cent, let’s assume the salary is K100,000, you cut it by 20 per cent and you are saying it will alleviate the electricity tariffs which was what we saw in 2019, what economics is that? In your mind, you will have saved K20,000 you have not saved anything Sir, because your night allowance is US$5,000 per night. Maybe that is Chagwanomics, that announcement was a panic reaction, his recognition for the first time that the economy is gone because they have been saying the economy is okay.”

Meanwhile, Hichilema said Kasolo was fired for being truthful.

“I have just been told that Chanda Kasolo has been fired for telling Mr Lungu that you cannot impose an illegal salary reduction on people who have not consented. So do you know the impact of that? Others who are remaining will not give advice to Mr Lungu, they will be afraid. By the way, don’t take away salaries of people who have not consented, it’s illegal! Chanda Kasolo has told you,” Hichilema said.

Hichilema called on the government to pay retires who were camped at the Ministry of Justice.

“People are sleeping and worshiping outside Ministry of Justice. And that minister last week, I saw him at the party where everybody was wearing white and he was dancing to the flow, showing a lavish lifestyle when retires are begging at his door step. Everyday, he parks his VX that belongs to the retrenchees, we saw hardships but for PF officials, it was parte after parte after parte. There was obscenity! Literally making love in public,” Hichiema said.

“Pay all those retrenchees camped at Ministry of Justice from 1st January, cut presidential trips, allowances for ministerial trips, only when it is essential, you will raise millions to pay those suffering citizens who worked for their money. If all you need is simple advice, take it. Unfortunately, unless you kill, you cannot fire me like Chanda Kasolo.”

He insisted that the country was bankrupt because of government’s imprudent use of resources.

“Our assets are wiped out by one single item coming out of carelessness and imprudence called debt. We are insolvent, it means we are bankrupt. US$19 billion! The country has never experienced this kind of debt since independence. Even when we gave them evidence that don’t borrow, they went and borrowed too much, they borrowed at a high cost even after we told them this would choke the economy, they didn’t listen to us, today we are where we are. What did they use the borrowed money for? They used the borrowed money to steal through corruption,” Hichilema charged.

Hichilema challenged the government to sell the Jet saying he had already found a buyer.

“Reduce the cost of doing business, we need to solve the electricity issue, you need money to do it manje ndrama zonse munadyela (you have stolen the money) that is the challenge. You can’t grow an economy to even three percent without electricity. More money for the youths, sell the jet, we don’t need it, Ija ndeke nangu sugulisa boi (If you don’t sell that jet my friend) by next couple of months [when] we take over office, I have already found the buyer. You think I joke when I travel around?” asked Hichilema.