NATIONAL Development Planning Minister Alexander Chiteme says PF is an enemy of it’s own success because it has performed miracles in the nine years in which it has been in office, leaving people craving for more.
And Chiteme says he is not ashamed that Zambia’s growth rate is projected to be in the negatives because by investing heavily in infrastructure, PF has laid a solid foundation for other sectors to thrive, emphasising that things have “to get worse before it gets better”.
Meanwhile, Chiteme has revealed that he is a COVID-19 survivor, pledging to support the awareness programmes.
Speaking on a Pan African Radio programme, Sunday, Chiteme said PF had performed miracles in the short time it had been in office.
“I’ll repeat the words of a great man who tells us every day that PF is an enemy of its own success. PF has only been in government for 9 years but Pf has done what no government has done in this country starting from our founding fathers; thank God that they did what they did, thank the MMD that they did what they did but we came in as PF and in nine years, we’ve done wonders, we’ve done miracles as regards infrastructure development, just to mention the road networks,” Chiteme bragged.
“I’m sure someone else is going to call later on and say ‘we can’t eat roads’ but the simple answer is that yes because infrastructure development brings about a lot of other developments in a lot of other sectors that we should begin to mention and explain to our people so that they can have an understanding. I was in Sikongo the other week and I shed a tear because for the first time in Sikongo, we switched on a light bulb, from 1964. That is the development that we are talking about.”
Asked to clarify what he meant by saying PF was an enemy of its own success, Chiteme said; “we’ve done so much in so little time and people expect so much more that they are going to say ‘even here they haven’t yet come to develop’ because they have seen what the PF government has done in so little time.”
Chiteme said all the debt Zambia had accrued had improved people’s livelihoods in one way or another.
“When you say over borrowed, that is a term that I use very lightly. I have borrowed for projects that are changing the livelihoods of our people. If you want to term it over borrowing, well and good. I am terming it borrowing that has transformed the lives of our people. And in doing that, we are making sure to say our investments that [we have used the debt on] will begin to produce results. So that result is what we are going to use now to try and cover up our debt repayment. But you know, some investments, like when you go to open up in Shang’ombo, the return might not be seen today but in 25 years, 30 years from now. Maybe PF won’t be there, God forbid. But the actual impact is being seen by those people whose livelihoods have been changed,” he said.
“People are going to cry and say ‘when PF took over, the dollar was at K5’ or whatever it is. People are going to cry and say a lot of things but when the PF took over, there was no Levy Mwanawasa Hospital, there was no road linking Chingola into Solwezi. When PF came into power, the roads were in a deplorable state.”
And when asked why he kept bragging about roads when people were crying for affordable essential commodities, Chiteme said if previous governments had focused on building infrastructure, PF would have started from somewhere else.
“What I am saying is that first of all, you need to construct your infrastructure base…Because if we are going to prioritise to say our people are crying because a bag of mealie meal has gone to so much, it’s an issue that has to be addressed somehow because it is suppressed and it speaks to what we are doing right now. First of all, you have to bring out your foundation. Imagine, if MMD built roads, if they built hospitals or did all these other linkages, PF was going to start from somewhere. But we found a very broken down system. We found good numbers, our fiscals was good, we were growing at 7.5 per cent, our projection right now is that we are going to go into the negative. I am not ashamed of saying that,” Chiteme said.
“So we have to build a base to start from somewhere…as PF, we have looked at the basics that people need. First of all, we need to create linkages in the market. We need to create those farm blocks, we need to create those irrigation projects. That’s why we say diversification. That’s why our 7NDP is based on making sure that we’ve got a conducive environment where our people can begin to thrive. It has to get worse before it gets better.”
Meanwhile, Chiteme said he had just recovered from COVID-19.
“I am a survivor of COVID-19. I was diagnosed positive for COVID-19. I was just told three days back when you called me to come on radio that I had a negative result after testing positive of course. I am one of the people of this country that tested positive for Covid-19. Covid has got no status. It’ll attack you whether you’re a minister or wether you are a garden boy or MP. So I am one of the testimonies that you can come back and recover from COVID-19 and I want to be part of the people that are going to advocate for people to follow the guidelines of the Ministry of Health so that we can begin to defeat it,” said Chiteme.