UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka says it is retrogressive for PF to describe the 2022 national budget as a hoax.

Commenting on PF vice president Given Lubinda’s remarks that the budget was a hoax and not tenable, Mucheleka said Zambians would hold the PF accountable if they did not support the budget.

“Why should they not support something that is so progressive? It means that the PF is very retrogressive and that is why they were removed by the people. Now that we have done something that is so progressive, why shouldn’t they support? If they do not support, the people of Zambia will take notice of their behaviour. Ultimately, what we are doing is to enhance service delivery to our people. Why should someone honestly be against the employment of 30,000 teachers?” he said.

“If you employ 30,000 teachers who under PF were roaming the streets, you will have put money into their pockets. I remember at one time, the PF had a slogan of putting money in people’s pockets, why didn’t the PF do that? This employment will improve the education sector. Let us make progress. This is why you see that the budget is focused on growth and bringing development closer to the people and that is what we have done.”

Mucheleka argued that for the first time after many years, people had been empowered through the budget.

He added that youths and women would be able to participate in economic activities.

“The issue is that those in PF got so used to stealing and engaging in corruption. Corruption became the order of the day and it became a norm. They wanted to entrench poverty among the people so that people can be dependent on handouts of t-shirts, chitenges. These are the things PF was doing and they never wanted to empower the people. For the first time after so many years, people have been empowered through the budget. If you put K25.7 million in a rural constituency, that is going to have a serious positive impact on the livelihoods of the people. The youths and women for the first time will be able to participate in economic activities through which they can generate income,” Mucheleka said.

“Any serious Zambian should commend the steps that the UPND government has taken. Mind you, in this country, the majority of people that are affected by poverty, 65 percent of them are found in the rural areas and that is where the UPND has been able to take the money through the budget. Deliberately, the President restructured Ministries and for the first time we have the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development which is meant to pay serious attention to the issues of rural development and poverty.”

Mucheleka said he expected PF to provide proper checks and balances.

“What I expect Mr Lubinda and his colleagues to do is to be able to provide proper checks and balances by asking the Ministry of Finance that ‘you have allocated this kind of money, how do you hope to implement it?’ They must ask how government, and what measures have been put in place to build capacity in local authorities, who will be the custodians of this money. What extent do the controlling officers, town clerks and council secretaries ensure that these resources are used for the intended purposes? That is what I expect the PF to be doing and then I would say they are offering proper checks and balances other than saying that the budget is a hoax,” he said.

“This is something that is completely new to the PF and it is something that they never talked about. What the UPND has done is to think about the people. It is an issue of ensuring that the majority of Zambians that under the PF were not able to participate in any economic opportunity have an opportunity to contribute to wealth creation at household level. And as you do that, you are actually creating wealth for the nation and you will find that overtime, we will have more resources in the country. That is what the 2022 budget aims to do.”

Meanwhile, Mucheleka said the UPND government intends to grow the economy above 10 percent.

“I can assure you that overtime, should we continue on the same trajectory within four or five years, during the Levy Mwanawasa days, the economy was growing at an average of 6.7 percent GDP per annum. And obviously the economy in 2022 is projected to grow at 3.5 percent GDP but that is not good enough. Our intention as UPND is to see in the medium term that our economy begins to grow at not less than 7 percent,” said Mucheleka.

“We want to get back to that trajectory and we want our economy to be growing at double digit, 10 percent and above. That is the only way we are going to effectively combat poverty and create wealth. Anything else that PF is talking about, they are just a bunch of jokers and bad losers for that matter. That is why they are making such noise because they do not know what it means to work for the people. No wonder they were supplying expired drugs and being paid for something they never delivered. Some of them should actually be answering for corruption.”