SPECIAL Assistant to the President for Project Implementation and Monitoring, Mr. Lucky Mulusa has castigated Zambians who were in the habit of tarnishing the image of the country for their selfish benefit.
Mr. Mulusa has said that it was unfortunate that some Zambians, including educated ones, were on a crusade to speak ill of their own country for the sake of wanting to meet their selfish desires without taking into account the damage they were causing to the country.
He said there should be a marked difference particularly when an educated person criticised unlike what transpired now where it was obvious that it had become fashionable for some elements to criticise in order to impress their “masters”.
“There are also some educated Zambians who have fallen prey to negative comments. When you are a professor, for instance, I think you should ensure that your cricism is well thought out. Your contribution should be structured on the same lines as a thesis, with the problem properly laid out, then you discuss and at the end you offer solutions. In that way, we the policy makers can even see that indeed there is a problem here and we are sincerely being called in to rectify something,” he said.
Mr. Mulusa was speaking yesterday when he addressed diplomatic staff at the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria. He is in South Africa to learn how the country has modelled some of its ministries which pertain to national planning and evaluation. This is riding on President Edgar Lungu’s proposal to create and split some ministries.
Mr. Mulusa pointed out that Zambia has, for a long time, suffered from a lack of reliable information platforms from which balanced and accurate material could be sourced. He said the only readily and easily accessible sources where those which offered negative perception about Zambia and that this has caused a lot of damage to the country’s image especially to prospective investors and other categories of people who lived outside the country.
“This lack of reliable information platforms has left those wanting to learn about our country exposed to these negative sources.
“Those who are painting Zambia black are very few. In fact most of them have been given opportunities before to save the people in public office and their performance has been disastrous. These are the people who want to assume the moral pedestal; today they are the righteous people and not President Lungu,” Mr. Mulusa noted.
He said President Lungu was “a wonderful person” who has continued to ensure that development spread across the country including to places where he had been rejected during elections.
“Look at North western for example, the President has been there more than any other province, in fact more than any other President just in the eight months he has been in office.”
Mr. Mulusa said the splitting and creation of ministries was a good thing which would enable a particular ministry to focus on specific issues and ensure proper implementation.
He gave an example of South Africa which he said had well-defined ministries such as the Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Monetary and Evaluation and the Commission for National Development Planning, which made it easy to focus on core functions.
Mr. Mulusa explained the current poor performance of the Kwacha saying this was being worsened as a result of lack of proper coordination of government departments which were sourcing their foreign exchange from the open market instead of going to the central bank.
“This tends to cause shakes to the economy because usually the amounts syphoned out of the economy for the procurement of, for instance, fuel are huge. Road contracts which are in the hands of Chinese companies have also contributed to the shortage of foreign exchange in the country as most of the money paid to them is taken out of the country,” he said.
Mr. Mulusa noted that President Lungu has tackled the issue of the poor performance of the Kwacha by announcing measures that would broaden sources of foreign exchange.
He said one way in which this was being addressed was by implementing road projects in a sequence that would allow focus on those that would economically contribute to the country.
“When the President says we need to think smart, he means we need to start choosing projects that have economic benefit above those with a social contribution to the nation. It is those with economic contribution that will eventually enable us meet social needs.”
Mr. Mulusa said he was happy that the Mission was focusing more on economic diplomacy which he said was critical to the country in order to spur development.
Earlier, Zambia’s High Commissioner – Designate to South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba said the Mission was focused on forging closer links with South African businesses as “we realise that the bulk of investment in Zambia is from South Africa.”
He said the High Commission has, to this effect, formed the Zambia – South Africa Business Council which he said was meant to promote interaction among South African businesses operating in Zambia, Zambian businesses operating in South Africa and the Zambian government.
Mr. Mwamba hoped the launch of the Council which will take place soon would be graced by President Lungu in order to give it a good profile.
He bemoaned the fact that most government institutions were not responsive to the needs of the Mission whenever approached.
“Most of the times we have to navigate through a forest as we try to get assistance from our relevant offices in Zambia. It has been frustrating to us as well as the investors we may have been trying to bring in,” Mr. Mwamba said.