MMD president Nevers Mumba says President Edgar Lungu should apologise to Zambians for being the cause of the country’s economic downfall as he addresses the nation next Friday during the opening of the final session of Parliament.

In an interview, Mumba urged President Lungu to use his last Parliament address ahead of next year’s polls to apologise to citizens because the PF government had failed to live up to their promises of improving the economy.

He insisted that the PF had failed to run the economy and that there was no purpose for the ruling party to be on the ballot paper in the 2021 general election.

“I think the economy of the country has gone to levels where it is actually inescapable. Ever since the PF came in government, they have just taken away from this economy and from the future of the Zambian people in comparison to what they found when they took over office. The history of our economy is clear for all Zambians that the MMD left a very healthy economy and ever since PF came, it is the depreciation of the kwacha; it is the pice increases; joblessness; no money in the economy; all the economic indicators have fallen and that is not what will elect the government. You elect a government in order to improve where you are,” Mumba said.

“He needs to lead the way, first of all, an apology to the Zambian people, reset the whole process. This is not what Zambians expected from PF when they removed MMD. They hoped that their lives would be better, their freedoms will be better; they hoped that the taxes would be less; they hoped that they would have money in their pockets; they hoped that jobs would be available and none of that has come! This is the right time for an apology, none of those things that this government had promised has come out. The question remains: why does PF even want to stand in 2021? For what purpose? I think without an apology, there is no reason for PF to put its name on the ballot next year. It would be really unfair unless there is an apology.”

He urged President Lungu to explain how he planned to improve the country’s ailing economy.

“You don’t say, ‘I will take over the economy,’ the economy responds to the government in place, and not in the hands of the Zambian government. If government has no fiscal discipline, which we have not seen, government has done very little to deal with corruption and the perception of it; those people who are supposed to be answerable are being excused. These are the issues that have caused the economy to collapse, it is not (Dr Denny) Kalyaya. The only way a government can control the economy is through reducing government expenditure, improving the fight against corruption to ensure that discipline comes back and ensure that we get forgiven our debts,” Mumba observed.

“This debt that this President is carrying is unsustainable and we have been telling this government for the longest time. I don’t agree that the President will have any idea on how to take a hold of the economy. I think the best way to do that is something that we have not seen from his team and that is fiscal management, feasible fight against corruption, we are not seeing that, therefore, the economy doesn’t stand a chance to be improved by rhetoric, it can only be improved by action.”

And Mumba said President Lungu should also apologise for the failure to manage COVID-19.

“The President must speak to the issue of COVID-19. If I were sitting in his place, I would pepper my speech with an apology. An apology that the COVID-19 fight was mishandled and that we could probably have saved a lot of lives if we had responded earlier by shutting down the country for some time to limit the movement of the virus. If I was sitting in his place, I would not play politics in opening Parliament, I would look into that camera and apologise to the Zambian people that ‘we went the wrong way but we are willing to work with the Zambian people to try and find out our path back to the restoration of the country’,” urged Mumba.

“If the President does not touch the soul of the Zambian people in his last opportunity he has, he must kiss government goodbye because Zambians are not going to respond to politics, they will respond to a sincere, honest and repentant President, who would wish to make things right moving forward. If that doesn’t happen, the hearts of Zambians will continue to beat further away, not only from him, but from the Patriotic Front.”