UPND spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says President Hakainde Hichilema will not depart from his election promise by handing out jobs on the basis of political affiliation.

And Mweetwa says some members of parliament who are speaking loudly to show relevance but plundered public resources will soon cry and seek clemency.

During a media briefing, Wednesday, Mweetwa said supporters should not be seen to be the ones throwing mud at the leadership because they would be viewed as unauthentic UPND members.

“We have seen on social media where our supporters [are] saying ‘we worked hard for this party’. The government is asking for CVs because even before forming government, the President insisted that under his leadership job placement will be based on citizenship and competence. The President is not about to veer off his election promise and begin to hand out jobs on the basis of political affiliation. For those who may not have relevant qualifications, watch out for what the budget will say. Our party supporters should not be seen as the ones throwing mud at the leadership otherwise we will think they are not genuine UPND supporters. We are alive to situations by the Patriotic Front where they want to make UPND look bad,” Mweetwa said.

“Even before, the President has already responded by creating the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises. This is a deliberate creation to respond to high levels of unemployment amongst young people and women. Even then, there is a requirement for certificates and these are to show that as a grouping you have formed a cooperative so that we do not use tax payers’ money. The President is committed to ensuring that the sharing of the national cake is done. The President does value your sacrifices. We must all find ourselves ready to take advantage of the budget. The politics of dishing out money and brown envelopes is over. Our genuine supporters know what we stand for.”

Mweetwa called for patience, saying the party understood the agitation among members because many citizens voted for UPND because of jobs.

“There is agitation from members of the UPND calling for employment. Such agitation is understood because many citizens out there voted on account of this new administration creating jobs. But it also has to be understood that the President has a vision to revitalise the economy of this country first. It is a healthy economy that will provide an opportunity for job creation and opportunities. The President wants to place emphasis first on investment in sectors that should create jobs and not fronting by way of having so many people appointed to positions where they expect to be paid when the economy is on its knees. So as a party we are calling for patience once more from our supporters,” he said.

“It is our sincere belief that everyone under this administration will get something but that the hallmark of getting something begins with hard work. I am very clear in my mind that the budget will bring hope to the people of Zambia. It will be able to show opportunities that will soon arise in Zambia in the formal sector and particularly in the informal sector. I can preemptively state without referring to any provision of the budget that it is a budget of hope to create opportunities, especially for people in the informal sector.”

Mweetwa said the President was being meticulous in order to ensure that the right people were appointed.

“Government is not paying a blind eye to those concerns people are raising. This is a new government determined to provide leadership different from business as usual. The government of Hakainde Hichilema has found the government system extremely dirty that sometimes the people that some people would expect that ‘such a person should be appointed to this portfolio’ are the ones who have been found wanting. So the President is taking it easy because he does not want to appoint someone today only tomorrow to be told if he is not aware of his skeletons. So the President is meticulous and will ensure that the right people are appointed,” he said.

“The President wants to drive a very clear message to all Zambians that the civil service is apolitical. The President wants that going forward civil servants should know that they are not part of a ruling party but part of a government which should continue to run even after a political party has been removed from power. So to call for a carte blanche, firing of individuals holding public positions because there is a new government is understandable because some of those were in those positions as political stooges and not professionals. Sooner than later, people will appreciate the fact that the President is taking his time.”

And Mweetwa said some members of parliament who were speaking loudly would soon cry and seek clemency.

“Overzealous politicians especially the Patriotic Front and their surrogates [are] thinking they are holding us accountable by calling for UPND to deliver on free education…They killed the economy and have sacks of money in their homes as we saw over the issue of Faith Musonda. Money has been hidden in infrastructure and so on whose ownership is placed in people who are away from the government system. All that information we have it and like the President said ‘wina azalila manje manje’ (someone will soon cry). Some of the people who are busy in parliament talking loudly to show relevance that they are an aggressive political party, some of them very soon will stop talking. I am speaking from an informed position, some of them will start crying and seeking clemency very soon. That is not the desire of the President’s administration, it is simply the law. They will soon be made to account,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mweetwa said punishment without gain or recovery of plundered resources would not be beneficial.

“We are aware that there are citizens who are concerned about part of the approach that has been taken in the fight against corruption. For instance, someone found with sacks of money has been left scot free. We are operating under a government of laws and not of men. It is the laws of Zambia that provide an opportunity for a criminal who offers to become a state witness not to be prosecuted. What benefit will it be to prosecute an individual and spend five years arguing in the court of law than surrendering the money for extra information? We think that that is a win-win situation for Zambia,” said Mweetwa.

“We understand the anger that Zambians have against corruption. One of them can be volunteering information so that all the political corrupt big wigs can be brought to account. For us, that is a victory for the tax payer and not a loss. Punishment alone without gain or recovery of resources that were plundered will not be beneficial.”