PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu must tell Zambians what he is going to do to improve the poor state of the economy after admitting that he was apparently not in charge of the nation’s affairs, says former finance minister Ng’andu Magande.

On Monday, President Lungu said Zambia’s economy was almost shutting down in some sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic so it was imperative that he took control of the situation, as the man in charge.

But in an interview, Magande wondered what finally made President Lungu realise he was supposed to be in charge all along.

“The question that everybody else is asking is: what has he been doing all this time? The President in Sinazongwe, very far from Lusaka, said that, ‘he wants to take charge now,’ and people are asking what has made him realise that he is supposed to be in charge? Is it the crocodiles he went to see or perhaps the advice from chief Sinazongwe? In any case, the economy is already suffering, some of us don’t want to dwell on the history of what he has been doing. What I am interested in is, what is he going to do that we, the citizens, can participate in to turn the economy around? He is saying he now wants to take charge so we want to know: in taking charge, what is our role as citizens? Where is the plan we can help to follow? Is there a developmental plan to which we can participate in to make sure we amend the current poor state of the economy?” asked Magande.

“Because if someone admits, don’t push him to answer more questions on an admission, what do you gain? So, push him to say: what is he going to do? Just say, ‘people are happy that the President has decided to take charge now, but they are saying, ‘can we also participate?’ It is our economy, not his alone. Let’s get him out because he is coming out to say he is now going to get things done. If citizens are saying, ‘how do we participate now?’ It means indirectly that he admits that in the past, he was doing things on his own or he wasn’t in charge of people, who were supposed to help him to run the economy.”

Speaking when he addressed Sinazongwe residents, Monday, President Lungu lamented that government revenue had dwindled in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“As a government, we are spending so much money to fight COVID-19 and at the same time, our income generation has reduced tremendously. Because of this, the economy is almost shutting down in some areas; tourism is also an area, which has been badly hit; the area of commerce and trade has generally been affected. The revenue coming in through the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), through the Ministry of Finance, has dwindled significantly. So, it is imperative for the man in charge, myself, to take control of the situation by visiting the likes of Zongwe Farms to find out what we can do together to improve productivity in that sector where they are involved. I brought with me the Minister of Finance, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry and the Minister of Tourism so that they have an appreciation of what can be done in this difficult time to help this industry. I am sure we have seen enough. We are going to tell our Minister of Agriculture as well that there is potential for Agriculture in the Southern Province,” said President Lungu.