PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says he is not an agent of imperialism but of the people of Zambia.

And President Hichilema says his government will fight past, present and future corruption because the vice is a “python” which constricts growth.

Speaking during the launch of the European Union- Zambia Economic Forum, Wednesday, President Hichilema said driving the economic success of the country was not equivalent to being a bootlicker to anyone.

He said the narrative that he was an agent of imperialism was being driven out of ignorance.

“Only if we succeed on the economic side of the equation; trade, investment can we support the vulnerable in our society. We must get it right, people of Zambia. You have to teach me another way of looking after the weak in society without economic success. Driving economic success is not equivalent to being a bootlicker to anyone, it is not equivalent to being an agent of imperialism, I am no agent of no one, I am an agent of the people of Zambia, to make their lives better,” he said.

“I see this narrative, which is sometimes driven out of ignorance and no alternative offered at all. Europe is strong today economically and because they are strong economically, they can even give us support on this continent. Governments of Europe cannot be strong without European business being strong. This government will only be strong if Zambian businesses are strong, they are expanded, they are growing, they are creating jobs. I am not a class teacher but I find it necessary to emphasise this point so that we can drift debate in our country away from things that really are not in line with the agenda to reconstruct our economy.”

And President Hichilema said Zambia wanted to increase its exports to Europe.

“We would like to increase the trade that will arise out of this. I am not talking about anything else other than increasing Zambia’s Exports into the EU. There are many things we need to look at, sometimes your market is difficult to access, can we open it up a bit. Let us discuss issues that will allow us to access your markets, our markets, our global markets. The opposite is equally true, sometimes we have our own rigidities here that do not allow us to exploit the market. So, even on our side, we should do some soul searching. This government, I think it is the right one to allow that to happen. Zambia can increase its exports of many things into Europe working with the European businesses in Zambia,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Hichilema said Zambia was open for business and would continue to be more transparent and accountable.

“Zambia is back in the League of Nations, Zambia is open for business. We will continue to improve because one of our agenda items, we want growth. Our own businesses operating environment must improve for Zambians business. So we will continue to be more transparent, we want to assure you on that. We will continue to be more transparent, more accountable, we want to anchor what we do on policy consistency, better policies and consistency, no flip flop. Sometimes Zambians are aggressive towards each other, unnecessarily so. Business is business, no genuine businessman will invest when an environment makes them lose money. So when we talk of the environment, it is for the citizens of Zambia. The environment which is good for citizens or for foreigners is good for citizens,” said President Hichilema.

“We are also emphatic that we will continue with our zero-tolerance to corruption. It is damaging society, it is damaging businesses, it is a python constricting growth. We have seen growth in the last 10 years dropping from six percent to five, three to two to zero. Corruption is a python constricting business, be assured that we will fight small corruption and big corruption, past corruption, present and future corruption. They are no different, their effects are the same.”