PF media director Sunday Chanda says UPND president Hakainde Hichilema should stop criticizing the 2021 national budget and instead offer an alternative.

Commenting on Hichilema’s remarks that the 2021 budget was a true reflection of economic failure in an interview, Chanda said Hichilema should graduate from being a heavy critic to an opposition leader who provides solutions.

“For starters, it is not a secret that COVID-19 has impacted negatively on our world economy. If there is anything we would require from Mr Hichilema is for him to graduate from his speciality as the country’s number one chair critic, to become what Anderson Mazoka became as leader of the UPND. We are asking Mr Hichilema to unveil an alternative budget to the nation in the same way his predecessor the late Anderson Mazoka did under Levy Patrick Mwanawasa,” Chanda said.

“We are asking him to graduate from being the country’s number one chair critic to become what Anderson Mazoka became. We are calling Hichilema and the UPND to provide the nation with an alternative budget. This has been done before and we are not asking for too much, we are asking for something that has been done before by the UPND but of course under a different leadership that had capacity as opposed to the current UPND whose capacity we want to put to test. So can they unveil the Zambian people with an alternative budget.”

He said in his alternative budget, Hichilema should indicate how he would avoid expenditure and grow the country’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want Mr Hichilema’s budget to show how differently he was going to handle the economy under COVID-19. We would want Mr Hichilema to clearly tell the Zambian people and show through his alternative budget how his budget is going to look like under his leadership and UPND with revenue bases shrinking, including Zambia, because we know when this happens, this affects the country to among other things provide services for citizens to as well meeting certain obligations as when the fall due. Let Mr Hichilema, through the alternative budget, tell us how he is going to build economic resilience because that is what other countries are focusing on and that is what the PF budget is focusing on,” he said.

“So we will be interested to know how Mr Hichilema will deal with rising expenditure under COVID-19. Where is his priority going to be? Was he going to prioritize what we are prioritizing such as dismantling arrears and ensuring that the allocation towards FISP is increased? Where is his priority going to be? How is Mr Hichilema going to slow down inflation and reduce budget deficit? We don’t understand why Mr Hichilema has issues when the 2021 budget is a pro poor budget; when you give some form of relief to the workers who are already having a hard time. Mr Hichilema can do better. For instance, he can come out and say to the Zambian people that this is my alternative economic recovery program under COVID-19.”

Chanda said Zambia lacked credible opposition parties which was not good for democracy as the PF had no competition.

“I can tell you that the current state of the opposition UPND, the form in which they are right now is bad for our democracy because it doesn’t provide the Patriotic Front with serious competition. Serious competition politically is good for democracy it also just goes to gauge the Patriotic Front to work even harder and apply itself even more. Unfortunately there is no competition to write home about from the opposition UPND, NDC and the Alliance as they want to call it,” said Chanda.

“This is very bad for our democracy, it is terrible for democracy! Even in the unlikely event that UPND forms government there will be a disaster! Anyone without any form of malice can tell that UPND is not ready to form government. The only time the UPND was ready to form government was under the late Anderson Mazoka, not the UPND of today because they don’t know where to start from.”