PF disciplinary committee chairperson Tutwa Ngulube says President Hakainde Hichilema’s international trips might not be of benefit to the country.

Commenting on President Hichilema’s international trips so far, Ngulube said some of the trips were unnecessary.

“International trips may or may not benefit the republic depending on what exactly the Head of State is trying to achieve. I think there has been no explanation as to how these trips could benefit the nations. In our understanding, a trip cannot benefit the nation, it is an expense. When you move the President from one country to another, the cost is always huge. Some of the trips that the President has made in the past are unnecessary because the President has a choice to attend those meetings virtually and save money for the country. And if he really feels compelled to attend those trips, we are of the view that he must explain how the country will benefit economically. Most of the trips that have been made are a show of authority,” Ngulube said.

“And the President told us when he was in opposition that he would cut off the international trips which he claimed were draining the resources of the country, but so far, the President is making a trip every week. He has told us that the country is broke, he said he inherited empty coffers. So which coffers is he using to fly all over the world? Some of the trips he is making will never benefit this country. What we need to tell the President is that he doesn’t need to personally attend these meetings because they don’t end. He should delegate his ministers, even Ambassadors and High Commissioners in those countries can represent Zambia in those meetings.”

He wondered whether the President’s trips were budgeted for.

“I don’t think the trips made by the President are budgeted for. And I think it would be interesting to hear how the President is funding these trips. We need to know under which head of the budget where these trips funded so that we can appreciate as Zambians that the President is doing the correct thing. Trade and investment in my understanding cannot happen overnight. Zambia has signed thousands of bilateral agreements since independence. Unless the President tells us how different these trips are from the other trips,” he said.

Ngulube said former president Edgar Lungu’s trips were of benefit to the country.

“The trips made by Edgar Lungu in 2015 to China brought a lot of schools, universities, roads and bridges. What about the trips being made by Bally? He must explain to us what new thing he is going to do apart from what his predecessors have done in the past. As far as we are concerned, when the President goes out for meetings, how much money is he bringing in the country? What tangible development are we seeing?” Ngulube asked.

“For us, we know that he only has five years in State House, in these years, is he going to translate all these bilateral agreements that he is signing now? Are they going to materialise? And he has been accused of going to a meeting in Congo which was meant for ministers. So, we don’t see any meaning in the trips that he has made and in fact, he can even make an end to the trips because there is Covid, there is no money in the economy and he inherited empty coffers.”

And Ngulube said the economy could not be mended if the Head of State kept flying out of the country.

“He must refute the allegations that people are accusing him that he is taking advantage of being Head of State and President by engaging in business. And I heard his comment when he was traveling to South Africa where he said this economy was seriously run down. So, how do you mend the economy by flying away? The President must sit and start working. It is too much of trips and finger pointing at PF. The PF infrastructure agenda is so huge that the President cannot beat that agenda even if we gave him 50 years to run. How do you mend the campaign promises when you are failing to fix your own campaign promises? They said they are going to employ teachers in January, have they done that?” asked Ngulube.