UPND spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says the new dawn government has been found in a compelling situation of doing certain things they said they would not do, as a matter of necessity.

In an interview, Mweetwa cited the hike in fuel pump prices, saying it was never an intention.

“Some of the yellow and red flags being raised are how it should be. Once a party forms government, there must be people to keep it in balance in terms of checks from day one. I think Mr [Rueben] Lifuka was well balanced in his views. However, some of the things he said, I do not agree with him because certain things require time for you to see the desired results. As a government, we do not have to make a big issue out of what people are trying to point out [as] areas that they think we need to look at. After all, we are the ones in leadership and those who point out areas that need to be cleaned up, we need to listen to them,” he said.

“As for levels of preparedness, I think we have been prepared for a very long time. The issue is that we did not inherit a stable government in many respects. We inherited an economy which was on its knees. To begin to put fundamentals in place has been one of the most challenging things that has brought us to a space where we are beginning to do some of the things we had actually said we will not do as a matter of necessity. We are now having to do as a matter of necessity certain things we had said we would not do. For example, issues to do with hike in fuel. This was never an intention but inadvertent. All these things are having an effect on us to settle down in government.”

Mweetwa, however, said this did not mean that the government would divert from the electoral promise of lowering the cost of living.

“We are having as a matter of necessity to do certain things that we had said we would not do. This means that we are not doing something that is different from what we promised. That is not the meaning. The meaning is that we have been found in a compelling situation where something that we should not have done, the circumstances have forced us to do them. That is why the issue of debt suspension initiative is one that led to the removal of subsidies. It is not us as a party to say now we should increase prices, no. We have been compelled by circumstances to be able to do some of those things because we inherited a mountain of debt,” he said.

“Additionally, to avoid this mountain of debt choking the economy further, we are having to come up with initiatives. Some of the initiatives apparently appear to be opposed to the promises. But that does not mean we will not fulfill our promises. We were found in a situation within which we had limited choices. We have to put it very categorically that we [shall] stick to our election promises and intend at the end of our five-year mandate to deliver on the electoral promises we made such as lowering the cost of living. We have just found ourselves between a rock and a hard surface when it comes to fuel prices.”

Mweetwa said the Russia and Ukraine conflict would have a negative impact on commodity prices.

“The Ukraine and Russia war has really had an effect. I think Ukraine produces 42% of world wheat. So this will affect not just the oil prices but also food commodity prices. This means that our economic projections and our targets are likely to be affected because our economy is interlinked with the well-being of the global economy to which the war in Ukraine has a major impact. So as we expect this government to perform we must be as citizens considerate that certain things are going to be affected. For instance, some of the funding that was expected to come through from cooperating partners from the international community is likely to be diverted into that war in Ukraine,” said Mweetwa.

“As we have seen, the international community is now having to come up with unplanned budgets to redirect funding into Ukraine. So it is like you are planning to have a wedding and your friend promises to give you money but then they have a funeral. Surely you do not expect them to give you the same amount of money they wanted to give you. This is what has happened to the international community which is the major stakeholder and has an input in resurrecting Zambia’s economy.”