PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says his government is handling corruption cases cautiously by ensuring that the rule of law is upheld.
And President Hichilema says the current war between Ukraine and Russia is a burden to government’s agenda of reconstructing the economy.
Speaking when he met United Kingdom Minister for Africa Vicky Ford and her delegation, Wednesday, President Hichilema said he was aware that some citizens were concerned that his government was not quick enough in the corruption fight, but assured that it was moving cautiously.
“Constitutionalism, institution strengthening, the Anti Corruption fight, all of those must be conducted, must be advanced within the confines of the rule of law. We actually have a situation now where some of our citizens are complaining that we are not acting quick enough on the fight against corruption. We are cautious that we have to do this within the confines of the law and it will not be right to be unilateral about these issues otherwise there will be no difference with where we are coming from. But we are committed to all of these issues. Sometimes there is a belief that we need motivation, we lack the motivation, we are actually self motivated to pursue because we believe in these things. So we share those values,” he said.
President Hichilema said the government was committed to upholding the values of democracy.
“We are grateful to the British people for the support that they have rendered in many spheres to the citizens of Zambia. That includes support to training our policemen to be professional in handling citizens, standing between law and order on one side and obviously rights of the citizens on the other. So I think that is extremely important. We are coming from not long ago, a situation which was difficult before elections. That sort of support is very important and it is always welcome,” he said.
“This government is committed to values that we share. Sometimes we will be misunderstood by our own colleagues in a democratic environment when we say the values that we share, they want to extend that to other things. We are talking about the importance of democracy, sustaining democracy and I think Zambia has proven itself in this sphere. Working with the British people we want to ensure that we carry on with this tradition.”
And President Hichilema said the government’s decision to vote against the war in Ukraine was based on principle.
“Some of our colleagues in the democratic space after our vote at the UN rushed to the Russian Embassy to say ‘look this government is not friendly to you, we are your friends, so let us work together’, I am talking about political competition. It is not a friend, we voted against war, we voted against women who are pregnant being denied the decency to give birth in a maternity wing of a maternity hospital. That is what we voted against. We voted against forced migration, that is what we voted against. We don’t like aggression, we don’t like taking away people’s rights, we don’t like basically creating pain to people who are not responsible in any way,” he said.
“We carry the view, Minister, that trouble anywhere is trouble everywhere. I think Ukraine -Russia situation has proven that. We had to evacuate our own citizens, we never budgeted for that. Now we are enduring the high cost of fuel. These are reasons why Minister we want to assure you, we take the views we take because we think trouble anywhere is trouble everywhere. So I want to assure you, Minister, that these positions are based on principle and you can count on us and we believe you know we count on you as well, we must encourage others who want to stand in the middle because I think that is not helpful.”
President Hichilema called for more foreign investment in the country.
“Beyond that, we are encouraged that we can do all these things together. The other side of the equation is the economic front, is the investment, the trade so that we can lift the living standards of our people. If our people’s lives are not improved, poverty remains deep-rooted, then we could lose the social contract to support the global stability, Africa, regional stability, so we need to ensure that we maintain the social contract, the support of our people. We can only do that if our economy is functioning. The High Commissioner knows that we have a subject at hand in terms of drug supply in the hospitals. So we have to work to resolve that issue quickly, there are legacies issues, yes, again corruption, medicines finding their way out of the official system into private clinics. So we have to deal with that. So these are important issues. To deliver these issues to maintain our social contract we need to be able to be working with you on the economic side of the equation,” he said.
“We want to encourage more investment. So our duty is ensuring that we can accommodate foreign investment to continue improving the operating environment as government. So that it is predictable, first it is attractive then it is predictable. Then we create a climate that is acceptable to base projections on, income projections, balance projections, the operating environment we will continue to work on it.”
Meanwhile, speaking when he met Finland’s Deputy Minister for International Trade Nina Vaskunlahti, President Hichilema said the current war in Ukraine and Russia was a burden to government’s agenda of reconstructing the economy.
“We are focusing on making the business environment better, attractive and consistent, that is why we are concerned about the Russia, Ukraine situation which in a way adds an extra burden, a burden to our agenda to reconstruct the economy. What do I mean? The increase in the cost of fuel, we really didn’t need it, I don’t think anyone needs it. That is why we need peace and stability not just in our country, in our region, in our continent, the global village. So food prices obviously begin to go up which leads to externally driven inflation in our country,” said President Hichilema.