UPND spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says there is nothing to celebrate about the K85 reduction in the cost of living, as measured by JCTR, because there is still enormous work that ought to be done.
And Mweetwa says there is very little to criticise the UPND government about other than the complaint about the high cost of living emanating from high fuel prices.
According to the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, the cost of living for a family of five in Lusaka in the month of April 2022 stood at K9,326.41, showing a decrease of K85.13 from the K9,411.50 recorded in March 2022.
But in an interview, Tuesday, Mweetwa said while the reduction was minimal, it was a positive signal that better things were yet to come under the UPND administration.
“The K85 reduction in the cost of living for the last one month by JCTR – we think that there is still enormous work to be done. There is still enormous work to be done, there is nothing to celebrate about that K85, it is a minimal adjustment. But it is one which is indicative of what is happening in the economy and when it reaches the price of the bag of mealie meal, maybe we can begin to celebrate to say ‘ooh ok, the cost of living has reduced by at least a margin which brings the bag of mealie meal on the table’. For now, it is something worth noting and it is a positive signal that better things are yet to come under this administration,” he said.
Mweetwa said the UPND administration was making positive strides to ensure an improved economy, but some results would only show in the long term.
“So you are seeing that the last meeting of the DRC president was about the economy. It was about entering into agreements that have a lining on the economy. You saw that the other Indaba so to speak which was held was about private-public partnership or dialogue. All those issues have to do with the economy. The debt restructuring programme is actively underway, negotiations are underway and it is expected that positive outcomes will come out of those negotiations which should give the country a better economic outlook going forward. So these are some of the good things that are happening that are intangibles, that one cannot see here and now to say ‘ok this is going on well’. Some of them will begin to post results going forward,” he said.
“Look at the deal for First Quantum, the issue of the reassurance by Barrick Gold that they are not going to pull out of Lumwana because they are satisfied with the new leadership and how it has positioned the mining sector. These are some of the positives that people cannot see because people want to measure the economy with food on the table. So when the cost of living goes up, people will say there is bad governance or leadership if you like. And when the cost of living begins to stabilise like this, it is one of those outcomes of the transformations and dynamics that are coming out of economic management.”
And Mweetwa said asking the opposition to stop criticising the government was like milking a stone with a view of getting milk.
“So for the opposition to ask them to say ‘no don’t politicise this matter’, it’s like asking to get milk out of a stone. Especially the opposition we have led by our colleagues in the PF, you saw that they started criticising this administration from day one. Even before the new administration budget was put in place they started already declaring that this has failed. How could a government fail within three months? Why could the government be said to fail within the first five months of its budget? As things stand, this government has only been in government with its budget for four and half months and some people can say it has failed,” he said.
“I think that kind of politics is retrogressive. We think that when positive things are happening, people must acknowledge so that when you are going wrong and they criticise you, you know that they mean well. But I think for us, asking the opposition not to politicise certain issues that are crystal clear would be demanding too much from them. It is expected that they will politicise everything because they are in politics to start with. And secondly, other than of course what has been a complaint of cost of living owing to fuel hike whose reasons are abundantly known by many, there is very little to criticise.”
He insisted that the UPND government was focused on economic transformation.
“So the only thing which is undergoing transformation is the economic one and measures are being put in place. You have seen, people are seeing maneuvers that the President and his administration are putting in place. His engagements are not political engagements. He goes to South Africa, he goes for the mining Indaba, he goes to strike deals that are better for the mining sector of this country. Then he hosts president Kagame, he takes him to Livingstone to showcase Zambians tourism potential and capability and the whole world got to watch that,” said Mweetwa.
“And I can report that there is a positive vibe out there on the international community out of the showcase. It was one of the first, if not the first for a president of Zambia to host his brother at a tourist site like no other than Victoria Falls.”