DEMOCRATIC PARTY president Harry Kalaba has described President Edgar Lungu’s address to the nation as a scandal and a joke.

And Alliance for Community Action executive director Laura Miti says President Lungu failed to address the biggest problems which the country was facing like corruption and a falling economy.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) executive director Maurice Nyambe says President Lungu missed an opportunity to be more assertive on some key issues that the country was grappling with.

In an interview, Kalaba said President Lungu failed to address corruption because he was one of the people that were promoting it in the country.

“How can he talk about corruption when he is also part of those who are promoting corruption in this country? You are expecting too much from the President, please feel pity for the President, spare him sometimes. How do you expect the President to talk about corruption? How do you expect the President to talk about the scandals at the Ministry of Health? How do you expect the President to talk about the fire trucks which were bought? Honestly, how do you expect him to talk about those things? Because when you do a lot of investigations and a lot of searching you might end up finding that those things might be revolving among bakulu bakulu (influential people). So he is careful!” Kalaba said.

Kalaba said President Lungu’s address was a scandal and a joke.

“This should be the time to kick them out because there is nothing that he gave that gives hope in that speech he gave. Nothing! So, if they were those who were hoping that maybe he is going to talk about the price of mealie meal and ensuring what plans he has to bring it down, he never said anything. He was not interested in telling the Zambians with regards to the high cost of living, he was not interested. So if there was a reason, for those who are doubting, as to why they should not vote for him, this is the reason. Kick President Lungu out! He has to be kicked out together with his cronies,” said Kalaba.

“How can you address the whole of Parliament and you don’t talk about the way people are dying? You don’t even talk about oxygen machines. How can you be addressing Parliament you don’t even talk about issues that are affecting the very people that you are leading? So it is a scandal! That speech was just nothing but a sort of a joke. Many people that were watching that speech were dozing in their sitting rooms. He didn’t go through that speech, the President doesn’t take time to read through before Parliament. It doesn’t happen that way, that is not the way government works.”

And in a separate interview, Miti said it was shocking that President Lungu failed to address the multiple scandals that had rocked the country in 2020.

“In his address, the President unfortunately failed to touch the most critical issue facing Zambia which is corruption and the debilitating effect it is having on the economy and citizens’ lives. It is astounding that in the light of the multiple scandals that have happened in the last year, and the current Honeybee debacle, the President could find it possible to not address theft of public resources at length. He also completely avoided talking about the disturbing issue of continued police killings of private citizens,” said Miti.

“Instead, the President spent an inordinate amount of time breaking down GBV and early marriages but managing not to link those vices to the deep poverty caused by the endemic corruption in the country. The only time passion and belief was heard in the President’s voice was when he was threatening citizens with reprisals if they continue to criticise him on social media.”

Meanwhile, Nyambe said it was disappointing that President Lungu failed to pronounce himself on the immorality and lack of integrity that allowed the Honeybee scandal to happen.

“As TI-Z, we found the presidential address to Parliament today to be one that lacked a real punch and that was in many ways a missed opportunity to be more assertive on some of the key issues we are grappling with as a country. It is disappointing that the President did not pronounce himself on the immorality and lack of integrity that allowed the Honeybee scandal to happen. There is nothing moral about corruption, neither does it contribute to the values we espouse as a country. In fact, corruption threatens those very values so to have the President’s speech turn a blind eye to it, especially in the wake of our downward slide on the Corruption Perception Index, was very disappointing to see. The speech fell flat on its face,” said Nyambe.