Democratic Party president Harry Kalaba says the Patriotic Front’s endorsement of President Edgar Lungu as their candidate in next year’s presidential elections will not make Zambians change their minds to vote them out.

And the former foreign affairs minister says the PF remains a liability and must be voted out of power next year because the party has failed to resolve the escalating prices of essential commodities.

In an interview, Kalaba said voters had already decided to change government next year.

“So, let them endorse him (President Lungu); they can even endorse him 50 or 100 times, we are not bothered ourselves as the Democratic Party. We are with the people; right now, we are on the ground. Let them continue endorsing him. We want Democratic Party to take over government; whether they endorse President Edgar Lungu, the Zambian people have decided that PF has to leave. Let us just agree that this party is a liability; let us kick it out. Let us not even waste semantics like ‘if they change, if they put this,’ we don’t care! What we care about is that we don’t want to see them beyond next year,” Kalaba said.

He said the four-day retreat President Edgar Lungu enjoyed last week in Eastern Province would not help him solve the current economic crisis.

“What do you expect from the PF? What do you expect from a group of individuals that does not know if they’re coming or going? They can’t deal with the economy because they have failed. They have completely failed. They can’t deal with the escalating prices of mealie meal, they can’t deal with the load shedding, which has affected so many people economically. They can’t deal with the increased electricity tariffs; they can’t deal with the increased pump price of fuel,” Kalaba said.

“All these are issues that require attention, but the President [went] to rest in Petauke at a lodge of a friend. At a lodge of a businessman; it has never happened before in the history of this country. We require that he should focus on what is important because to go and stay at a businessman’s [lodge]…is it Nyimba there? It will not help him. So for me, the people of Zambia should already start seeing whether the President clinches a third term for himself or he doesn’t, we are going to defeat President Lungu next year.”

On corruption, he said Zambians should not expect an improved fight from the PF this year because the party had tolerated “high priests of corruption.”

“Corruption cannot end as long as this regime is in power because this regime is corrupt to the core. Corruption is endemic in the PF government, it is part of them, how can it end? Just recently, Forest [Reserve] 27 was being de-gazetted; just recently, we heard how Mukula (Rosewood) has been harvested; just recently, we heard how fuel is the most expensive in this country because some top government officials are getting kickbacks from the comingled crude that is being imported into the country. So, how can it end when the high priests of corruption are in the PF government? How can it end?” wondered Kalaba.

“It (corruption) is going to increase and it is going to become so sophisticated. All this is happening when the civil servants continue to wallow in poverty. The pump price of fuel in the DRC is cheaper as compared to here; fuel in Zimbabwe, you have been saying that, ‘Zimbabwe is in turmoil’, how come fuel is cheaper than our price here? We are laughing at Burundi that Burundi is in turmoil, but fuel in Burundi is cheaper! So, who is in turmoil between you and the DRC? Who is turmoil between you and Zimbabwe? And then you have the leaders that had gone to rest [at their] friend’s place in Nyimba, very disappointing!”