LIUWA UPND member of parliament Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane says a UPND administration would focus on making Zambia’s debt manageable in line with International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendations to enable the country finally clinch a bailout package.

On Monday, former finance minister Ng’andu Magande Magande said that the UPND could have used their recently-held general conference to inform the nation on how they would engage the IMF once ushered into office.

He also wondered why government and the opposition did not engage him on matters regarding the economy because he had solutions that can help solve the country’s problems.

But in an interview, Dr Musokotwane explained that a UPND administration would focus on making Zambia’s debt manageable by committing to debt sustainability as recommended by the Fund to enable the country secure an IMF-backed economic bailout package.

“We will make a very formidable team that will take it back to what it was before the PF came through and beyond that, even much better. The problem about the PF is that they don’t know what they are doing. In 10 years, every news about the economy is a bad one. But meanwhile, in other countries, even when we have had COVID, they are not affected much as we have. So, the problems is just lack of knowing what to. We will sort this economy out. We know people who managed this economy well, so in one way or the other, we will work with them,” Dr Musokotwane said.

“The number one problem that we have is to quickly sort out Zambia’s debt to make it manageable. What the PF has done is just refuse to pay debt, that does not take you anywhere because at some point, you may need to borrow if there is a disaster. So, if you refuse to pay everybody when you have a disaster, they will not assist you. So, for us, we are going to engage the IMF very quickly and make sure that we agree on the programme. The problem why this government is failing to get a programme with the IMF is because of over-borrowing; for us, that will not be the problem.”

He said UPND would also seek to work in harmony with mining companies, who had consistently wrangled with the PF government over the disputed 2019 mining fiscal regime.

“And one of the key issues is to sort out the issues in the mining sector because that is where the money is coming from. The PF has spent 10 years just quarrelling with mining companies, but as they quarreled, less and less money is coming out from the mines. So, for us, we are going to call mining companies, sit with them and solve the quarrels. Because henceforth, the only story you want to hear is that there is copper production, more money is coming from mining. So, let us resolve all these quarrels, which the PF is failing to do. Don’t vote for PF, otherwise you are going to continue suffering! Don’t judge us because we don’t know how to dance or sing, those are irreverent issues. If you want these sufferings to end, vote UPND in,” he said.

Dr Musokotwane, who is also the UPND’s chairman for economics and former finance minister, said his party would be willing to engage Magande to implement feasible solutions to remedy the country’s ailing economy.

“We aren’t in office yet, when we are in office, we will consult him and other many experts that are out there. You should remember that I was the secretary to the Treasury when Magande was minister of finance, I was with him. I know he is out there so there is no problem with our team approaching him,” said Dr Musokotwane.

Magande had insisted that the UPND needed to address how they would engage the Fund to secure a much-needed economic bailout package, still expected to be in the region of US $1.3 billion to help shore-up Zambia’s Balance of Payments (BoP).

“The opposition, which is the biggest political party now they should be talking on to say, ‘we don’t think by telling the IMF this, we are going to get anything. With us, when we come into power, these are the things we are going to tell the IMF.’ So, even if the IMF are not talking to the opposition, they will be saying to themselves, ‘I think this country has a future.’ The programme that the PF is trying to approve and negotiate, by the time it is signed for, Parliament will be dissolved so we will be in the election mood. So, it will have an impact on what kind of message of anybody who wants to take over from the current government as in terms of the economy,” said Magande.