ACTING PF president Given Lubinda says the UPND government is out of touch with the reality on the ground regarding people’s suffering.
And Lubinda says the hike in fuel pump prices is not surprising because the previous price reduction was a political gimmick to woo voters during the Kabwata by-election.
Meanwhile, Lubinda says about 30 senior PF members and those associated with the party have either been summoned, taken before the courts of law, or had their homes searched by investigative wings.
In a statement, Friday, Lubinda said it was shocking that Vice-President Mutale Nalumango could claim that the economy was doing fine when the cost of living was high.
The PF vice president said the UPND government should accept that they had no plan and seek the intervention of other players in the economy to assist them with bankable ideas.
“Let me also take this opportunity to bring to your attention how the cost of living has steadily been rising beyond the reach of many of our people. It was, quite frankly, very disheartening to hear her Honour the Vice President, Hon Mutale Nalumango, a few days ago, bragging and mocking Zambians that the economy is doing very well. The Vice President’s assertion is not only shocking but also a confirmation that this government is out of touch with the reality on the ground with regards to the suffering of our people. For Madam Nalumango’s own information, the household food basket which was at K8,300 at end of December 2021 has now ballooned to K9,034 as at end of January 2022; a figure which is beyond the reach of many of our people,” he said.
“Since the UPND came into power the cost of living has increased by K734. So, according to her, this means “the economy is doing very well”. Shame! The latest increase in the pump price of fuel will trigger a ripple effect across the entire economy, further pushing up the cost of living, making life unbearable for our poor citizens. It is quite clear that the UPND government has got no economic plan whatsoever. The prudent thing they need to do is to accept the fact that they have no plan and seek the intervention of other players in the economy to assist them with bankable ideas to craft an economic recovery plan to salvage Zambia’s economy before it totally collapses.”
And Lubinda said the hike in fuel pump prices was not surprising because the previous price reduction was a political gimmick to woo voters during the Kabwata by-election.
“After the announcement by the UPND government that it had reduced the prices of fuel shortly before the Kabwata parliamentary by-election, I warned that that reduction was cosmetic and a mere political gimmick to woo voters in Kabwata. I said we had information that the prices would be increased soon after the election, and it has come to pass. This uncaring UPND government found the prices of fuel at K17.62 for petrol and K15.39 for diesel respectively. Instead of reducing the prices further as they promised during the campaigns, they increased the prices by more than two percent bringing the pump price to K21.16 and K20.15 for petrol and diesel respectively,” he said.
“We warned the nation that we should brace ourselves for more fuel price increases and a rising cost of living. Fortunately, history is on our side. On September 25th 2019 President Hichilema boasted that if the government implemented his proposed measures, which he put in the form of a table and posted on his Facebook page, the price of fuel would drop by K4. If we were to deduct K4 from the K17 at which the PF left the price of fuel it would have dropped to K13, and that is what Zambians were expecting from this government. But alas! The price is now at K21.96 for petrol and K21.54 for diesel.”
Lubinda said the increase in fuel prices was unjustifiable because the stock that the country was using was purchased way before the war in Russia and Ukraine began.
“I want to state here that the justification of the latest increase by the Minister of Finance, my brother Hon. Situmbeko Musokotwane, and the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) can’t hold water for the following reasons: (i) We are using the same old stock that was purchased under the import duty waver that the UPND government has extended from the PF government so the issue of rising costs of fuel on the international market cannot be used to justify the latest increase of the pump price as we are using still the old stock,” he said.
“(ii) We have not imported any new stock yet so the lies about the exchange rate cannot hold water because at the time the current stock was imported, the kwacha was trading at K17 per dollar as opposed to the current exchange rate of almost K19 to a dollar. (iii) With or without the war in Ukraine, which the Minister of Finance and ERB are using to justify the fuel pump price increase, the increase is unjustifiable because the current stock of fuel that we are using was purchased way before the war in Russia and Ukraine had begun.”
And commenting on the recent protest by unemployed doctors, Lubinda said health workers should not expect to be employed anytime soon since the government had not received treasury authority as indicated by Health Minister Sylvia Masebo.
“Let me give my party’s position on the continued protests by our unemployed doctors; the UPND government has promised to employ 11,300 health practitioners. They promised to employ all the 800 doctors by the end of January, 2022. Today is 4th March and still they have failed to recruit even one doctor. To worsen the situation, Zambians were told on Tuesday the 2nd of February, 2022 through Hon Sylvia Masebo, Minister of Health that the government has not even yet received treasury authority to recruit our health workers meaning that the recruitment of health practitioners is actually impossible as things stand,” he said.
“Further, how is it possible for the government to recruit 11,300 health workers when it is failing to recruit a paltry 800 doctors? This is a hoax. It is important to appreciate the fact that for the doctors to be allowed to work anywhere they first need to undergo an internship for one year and six months at either a government hospital or mine hospital. It is therefore unfair for the UPND and its sympathizers to suggest that the protesting doctors should look for employment in private medical institutions when they have not been given the opportunity to do their statutory internship.”
Meanwhile, Lubinda said the number of PF members who have either been summoned, taken before the courts of law, or had their homes searched by investigative wings had increased to 30.
“In one of my previous briefings, I informed the nation that twenty of our senior members and those associated with the Patriotic Front have either been summoned, brought before courts of law or had their homes searched by investigative wings of government. I want to report to the nation that the number has since increased to 30. The latest victims of this harassment and persecution now includes our former deputy secretary general, Hon. Mumbi Phiri, former minister of mines, Hon. Richard Musukwa, wife of our former provincial minister, Mrs. Lusambo, and myself, Given Lubinda. On the voting day in the recent Kabwata by-election, my house was completely surrounded by heavily armed police officers from 23:00 hours of the previous day to 08:00 hours the following morning. To date, police have not yet explained the reasons for the siege of my residence,” said Lubinda.