President Edgar Lungu needs bigger shoes because those which Michael Sata left for him have become small, says Lands Minister Jean Kapata.

And Kapata has asked Zambians to tighten their belts saying the economic challenges currently being faced will soon be overcome.

Meanwhile, Kapata says she is waiting for her December salary so that she can add the deficit and pay back the money she owes government, as instructed by the Constitutional Court.

Speaking on a Millenium Radio programme, Tuesday, Kapata said President Lungu had outgrown Sata’s shoes.

“Zambia has had its share of development and for those that know Zambia properly, the PF government under the leadership of His Excellency the late President Mr Michael Chilufya Sata and now under the current President Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu whom I know, I told [him] that he need to change his size because he fitted in President Sata’s shoes and I told him that what he has done, he has even done more and needed to change his shoes because I think the shoes have even become small. I’m so shocked that someone can compare Zambia to Botswana, Botswana’s population is 2.5 million And we are more than 17 million Zambians. So Botswana, don’t compare Zambia to Botswana,” Kapata said.

“And if you remember, when we got independence we were about 2.5 million and the Kwacha was even stronger than the [British] Pound but that does not apply because we are over populated now. People should just say the truth and don’t compare countries. 2021 is around the corner, let’s see who wins the election. I have 100 percent confidence that His excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu will win this election. He won in 2015 when we only campaigned for three weeks. And this time around he has done his homework. He has delivered development. And people have chosen not to look at his development and they have chosen to be blind, be blind and remain wherever you are. But for us, we are going to say PF is retaining the seats and I have no desire whatsoever to join any other party and stand on a different party other than my party which is PF. Whether I am adopted or not adopted, I will still stay and support the President.”

And Kapata said it was not the first time Zambia was going through such a difficult economic crisis.

“First of all, we have had droughts in this country. And I will give a very good example, myself I am a farmer, I’m into farming, I am also into livestock. I remember very well about two years ago, I planted maize, I planted maize and it grew so well. Before I knew it, the rains stopped. And I saw my maize dry up to zero. So that also contributes to bringing down the economy. The issues of COVID-19 which everybody knows, and I want to say that, I want to first of all thank the President for not closing down Zambia because if we had closed down, even the little that we are seeing now could not be there. The President in his wisdom decided that we were not going to close down, we were going to be affected all of us until the COVID-19 is done. We were going to be affected, Zambia is a landlocked country and when you look at COVID-19 issues, borders were closed. South Africa could not even bring in things in this country,” Kapata said.

“So, yes, the economy, people are having a hard time but I think it’s a matter of time and remember, it’s not the first time this thing is happening. Even during the Chiluba days, this happened but we tightened our belts. Even this time, tighten your belts, we will get over it. Covid has come and it has destroyed a lot of things. And even as we speak today, the cases have even started going up in Zambia. And I want to take this opportunity to caution all the Zambians out there, to get back to the use of masks and to get back to the use of washing their hands and not shaking hands because people have taken it for granted that Covid has gone. Covid is coming back and this time around we might even be shocked it might be more. So for those that are criticising the economy, it’s not that it’s the PF but it’s the circumstantial causes that are coming from outside.”

Meanwhile, Kapata said she would pay back the illegal salaries she got in 2016 after receiving her December salary.

“Since it’s a court matter and the court passed that all of us should pay, I’m sure you are aware that we were given a deadline up to 31st of December. So for me, I am waiting for my salary to come in and then I can go and withdraw and then maybe look up for some money and add up and pay. I have no choice but to pay because it’s a directive that has come from the court. And I think once we have paid, we would want to bury this issue once and for all,” Kapata said.

She promised that President Lungu would get more votes from her constituency because of the development that he had brought in the area.

“Definitely, [those numbers of electorates voting for us] will still be retained. They will be retained because President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is still loved many the people of Mandevu, And because President Edgar Chanda Lungu has delivered to the people of Lusaka and I can foresee a situation where last year he got something like 60,000 plus votes, And this time we want to make sure that he gets more that a 150,000 votes in Mandevu alone,” Kapata said.

Kapata also said Kawambwa Tea was now a viable company due to the capital injection from Mukula sales.

“There is a ban on Mukula and after we put up a ban, a few individuals were trying to smuggle it out. Then we put our heads together and decided that any confiscated Mukula would be sold and the proceeds channelled to ZAFFICO and ZAFFICO were selling And ZAFFICO sold most of those impounded trucks of Mukula and went on and revamped, there was a defunct company that is Kawambwa Tea in Luapula. That company had almost closed and people lost their jobs and things like that. The President instructed ZAFFICO to take the proceeds from Mukula to revamp Kawambwa, today Kawambwa is very viable, we are exporting tea. We are not even able to meet the demand that is coming from outside Zambia like the Congo market. New machines have been bought And it’s just viable and people have gotten back their jobs. So very soon once Cabinet deals with the matter, we will make an announcement on harvesting this precious commodity,” said Kapata.