Transport and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya says President Edgar Lungu is spending sleepless nights over the economic crisis that the country is facing, and he is working on a plan to turn the situation around. According to Honourable Kafwaya, the Head of State is on top on things.

“As a nation, we must come out of these problems and one way which we can easily come out is by bringing ideas together. The consolation is this, President Lungu is not sleeping on these issues; he is always looking to make sure that we the people he has given some power to act in one way or the other to do so. I think we are going to act as a government. I think that President Lungu is going to act and make sure that we resolve these problems,” Kafwaya told Pan African Radio on Sunday.

During the same programme, the minister commended the Zambia Air Force for spending over US$135 million on the procurement of the Gulfstream 650 anti missile presidential jet, saying they made a good call to make the commander in chief fly comfortable.

“We must understand that this aircraft belongs to ZAF and you must remember how much ZAF sacrifices for this country. So when ZAF takes a decision to protect their Commander-in-Chief to make him comfortable, I don’t have the right to ridicule the judgment of the generals in ZAF. I respect the decisions of the service men and women in uniform because they have the right judgment for this nation. I think the servicemen who took the decision not only to buy that aircraft but several other air crafts to be used in various ways did a good job,” said Honourable Kafwaya.

To be honest, we don’t know what this minister is talking about. Even as we call him “Honourable” for the sake of our house style, we know that there is absolutely nothing honourable about what he is talking about. One simply needs to apply common sense, if common sense is all they can afford, to see that this praise for the President is inspired by a bootlicking tongue.

But maybe the Honourable Minister has a point. Surely, it is very possible that our President is having sleepless nights, but we don’t think this is because of the economic situation. If he is not sleeping, it’s probably because he is having parte after parte in State House or his usual drinking joints. Other than that, we can’t find any other explanation for the reported insomnia that the Head of State is allegedly experiencing.

If a President spends US$135 million on his comfort in the air, and his government is failing to spend a quarter of that money to resolve the ongoing electricity crisis that is affecting close to 10 million citizens and businesses, then those who are in government must know that he cares more about himself than the economy.

President Lungu has been talking about the country’s economic crisis since 2015, and has been claiming to be having sleepless nights since 2015. But is there anything to show that he really means what he says? Maybe to Mr Kafywaya, not us. In August 2015 at a State House golf fundraising function, Edgar Lungu stated that the current prevailing economic challenges cannot be attributed to any individual or form of mismanagement of the national economy because the difficulties are largely influenced by various factors across the globe. In short he was saying it’s global.

“My government is, however, doing its level best to reposition, so as to mitigate the effects of these harsh economic conditions. Therefore, such efforts definitely require the participation, patience and endurance. We are determined to overcome these challenges over time,” he said. In other words, he needed time more time in State House to fix the economy.

Almost a year later, on 18th August 2017, President Lungu addressed more than 70 captains of commerce and industry at his friend, Valden Findlay’s Chrismar Hotel. At this special breakfast meeting, he hinted at broad policy measures to accelerate economic growth and control spending over the next five years of his tenure.

President Lungu said he aimed at creating a more stable and predictable open market environment with increased consultation between Government and the business community. He said he would take painful but decisive measures to grow the economy and control expenditure by 2021. The President promised that all the ministers he would appoint, including Mr Kafwaya, would be required to adhere to austerity measures and be business minded, which he claimed was the hallmark of his Presidency.

Here we are today. How much of that rhetoric has been implemented? With his constant globetrotting, how can the country be expected to believe that the Head of State is having sleepless nights over the economic crisis? While Zambians are asked to tighten their belts, President Lungu is loosening his in Abu Dhabi. Admittedly, he says austerity measures don’t extend to the President. Whatever he spends doesn’t count.

We love our President and we believe that he is a biblical testimony of “rags to riches”, but everyone can see that his lifestyle in State House doesn’t reflect his humble background. He spends public resources like he was brought up in a rich family where money was never an issue.

So, what Honourable Kafwaya is saying about the President’s sleeplessness is a pure lie. While Zambians are struggling with the high commodity prices, depreciating currency and increased load-shedding, the President is having a blast! No wonder he was asking people on Facebook just the other day to share their opinions about the appointment of José Mourinho at English soccer club Tottenham. With all the problems Zambians are facing, that’s what our Head of State wants his citizens to discuss. Does this sound like a man who doesn’t sleep over the economic crisis? Kaya!