President Lungu’s refusal to dialogue and accept responsibility on economy shocking!

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President Edgar Lungu Address Parliament

On his return from his seven (7) days at the United Nations Meeting in New York, President Lungu dismissed the idea of having an Indaba on the economy because in his view, it will not serve any purpose as the late President Mwanawasa held several of them and according to him they produced nothing!

I totally disagree with the President’s dismissal of dialogue with a cross section of society on the status of the economy. I also disagree that the answer to our man made economic problems are prayers and fasting! The President’s refusal to call for indaba clearly shows that he is not exposed in such issues and lacks the understanding as to what those meetings are meant to achieve.

First and foremost, President Mwanawasa’s approach to dialogue is the reason why he left a strong economy! He embraced dialogue and consulted widely. The economy under PF has tanked because they do not consult! An example of a direct result of Indaba is the creation of CEEC. When President Mwanawasa visited Botswana, the Zambians, who were there at that time, recommended that in order to empower Zambians he needed to explore the establishment of an institution like the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) which the Batswana had.The South Africans also had Small Enterprises Development Agency (SEDA).President Mwanawasa proposed that the Zambians in Botswana send a group to State house – which we did – and give him a formal proposal ! CEEC was born out of that indaba meeting in Gaborone! I believe those who were in Government with the late President can testify on many examples.

To illustrate the importance of formal dialogue, one of the major secrets of Botswana’s economic success is the dialogue that the Government has with stakeholders especially the private sector. The President interacts directly with Citizens to get first hand information about what their views are through the Kgola. The Government headed by the President holds quarterly high level consultative meetings with the Private sector represented by the national Chamber called BOCCIM to share ideals on policy issues affecting the private sector. On bi- yearly basis, the Government (President, Ministers, PS and other senior government officials) meet the Captains of industry and hold an INDABA called Private Sector Conference for four days to discuss economic issues.

In America, during the 2008 financial crisis, President Obama did hold a wide ranging consultative meetings with the private sector. On September 16, 2015, President Obama met the Business Round Table, an association of Business leaders who employ more than 12 million Americans where they exchanged ideas on the economy and they asked all sorts of questions. On 23 September, 2015 the Chinese President, Xi met Chinese and American leaders in Seattle where he told his audience that the Chinese economy is doing well with big growth potential and his country is working on being more open and transparent. This was reassuring to the market and had positive impact on Chinese currency!

The former President Rupiah Banda also supported the need for an Indaba. He said, ” I think we have a problem which every Zambian must be made to understand and get involved in finding a solution, and the only way to make them understand is for Government to engage them.” He added that in the 2008 global economic meltdown, his government engaged the people in an indaba which helped the information gap between Government and the people. He said,” I needed the support of every Zambian in order to find a resolution to rectify the problems we were going through.”

The President should learn that the purpose of such meetings are wide ranging and some of the most important positive outcomes are the intangibles .The meeting of the President with stakeholders can change perceptions about him and his government. The meetings can also achieve great public relations coup for the President and engender trust.

The question the public want to know is: why does President Lungu avoid interactions with people as evidenced by the following:

  • his refusal to participate in debate for January 15 elections,
  • his failure to hold a press conferences to answer questions for eight months,
  • his chickening out at the last minute from a BBC interview
  • and now his refusal to hold an economic indaba.

This is clearly a pattern and the Opposition and NGOs need to take this up .The job of a President requires him to be personally accountable to the public. What is he afraid of? The President’s conduct of avoiding interviews, questions, debates is what raises speculation. In countries where you have a robust independent press and astute investigative journalism, the journalists would have been upset for being avoided and will be writing all sorts of speculative stories so that he would have been forced to communicate and interact with them through press conferences. If he cannot carry out these basic tasks, then he is in the wrong job!

As the saying goes, “if you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” On the other hand, we gather that he is ready to meet foreign investors and selected local businessmen privately at State house or fly to Mfuwe with them! He personally gave a directive that Ministers should make appointments to bring foreign investors to State house! He has made State house an Investment Centre! What is the role of ZDA and Ministry Of Commerce then?

The call for prayer is similar to the President’s emphasis on tribalism as a major problem that the country faces instead of focusing on corruption which has had devastating effects on our economy

In the light of the above, one cannot understand how a President who has been in power for only eight months can be so dismissive of suggestions for dialogue on the economy and make a statement tinged with arrogance and a know it all attitude! One wonders how he will be if he gets a five year term! He is basically claiming to have better wisdom than Mr. Rupiah Banda who occupied the seat for three years and is an experienced politician and others like Obama, Masire, Mandela, Xi etc who understand that to run the country you have to engage stakeholders in a formal manner!

It is apparent that President Lungu has not accepted responsibility for the economic mess happening under his watch nor has he properly identified the causes. His statement last month that nobody has mismanaged the economy and our economic problems have been caused by global factors. Also, his recent statement on arrival from New York when he said “I am in control and there is nothing that I have failed. Anyone who does not believe in God should stay away from the 18th October day of Prayer and fasting.” These statements are major causes of worry. Whereas most people believe that our problems are self inflicted and a result of lack of leadership and poor management and need economic solutions, the President believes our problems have been caused by global factors and sin and so they require divine intervention!

I personally believe that the call for prayers and fasting is all politicking and it is not being done in good faith but merely meant to dupe gullible Zambians and divert their attention from the problems caused by mismanagement of the economy. Prayer and fasting alone without action will not produce results. The call for prayer is similar to the President’s emphasis on tribalism as a major problem that the country faces instead of focusing on corruption which has had devastating effects on our economy. My take is that these are just diversion political games. Indaba is more important and more effective than public prayers and fasting. The President and all us should pray privately rather than politicize prayer!

We should not solve economic problems with political and religious solutions as it is similar to giving a malaria patient Atenolol which is for Hyper tension (BP) instead of coartem. The patient will not be cured. Zambia’s economic problems can only be solved by first identifying them, then accepting that we have problems and thereafter implementing practical measures not by prayers alone! The consultation process through an indaba whose composition is what can be debated, should form part the process. It is in this vein that I would ask President Lungu to reconsider his position on formal consultations of stakeholders on the practical solutions to our economic problems and some of us will be prepared to share our experiences in other countries if asked!

By Kalima Nkonde
The writer is a Chartered Accountant by profession and a financial management expert. He is an independent and non partisan commentator.

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60 COMMENTS

  1. Is it not obvious that people want conventions so that they can draw sitting allowances?

    Let the sitting government navigate through the economic difficulties.

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    • Prayers and fasting is arranged because of too much hate anger and bitterness exhibited by political players. This indaba is not meant for economic liberation or the exchange rate Mr author. If you are bitter like hh or Edith you need to attend these prayers and encourage others also to attend. Lets work us one Zambia one people

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    • your people don`t know chagwa,,,,,us (me and my friend @Nostradamus) who know him kown that if you want to dialogue with him, buy crates of beer and bottles of jamesson,,,, i promise you dialogue will flow

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    • For information of your thick skull, people from the private sector do not get paid by government when they are called for such meeting. Private sector employees do not survive on per diem like friends in GRZ

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    • Man Ndobo, I got so f##$ng drunk on Saturday, I had so many naps on Sunday, including in church.
      I went to pray for KWACHA, am not fasting, just as Edgar he will not. I want to help Edgar in prayers, that dialogue while drinking manzi-water bottles will healed absolutely nothing. ONLY prayers, with or without Elder HH.

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    • The reason why Lungu hates interviews and discussions is that he has nothing to say. Even during Sata’s funeral, he spent all the time chatting with his wife and ignoring the VIP next to him. Lungu is a real kaponya with nothing to offer Zambia. Those who expect anything will be bitterly disappointed.

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  2. He his afraid of meeting because the F.OOL has no clue about anything. Its very clear that this drunk can not think… we warned you

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  3. Proverbs 29:18King James Version (KJV)

    18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
    In Christian circles the usual way of describing this is as “having, or getting, a vision”. In other words, setting one’s mind and heart on a desired future outcome. The only goal or vision that counts in the Christian life is that His Kingdom come in the hearts of all people and His will be done [Matthew 6:10, 2 Peter 3:9].

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  4. Talk talk talk talk……just work hard and stop blaming the president…do you want Lungu to come in your house and feed you….just work hard and stop complaining and stop being lazy…when the Govt gives you contracts you eat the money and run…..

    2016 vote PF ( Edgar )

    I thank you

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    • My friend, can you hear yourself? Why don’t you tell the president to just work also and stop blaming God? Does he want God to walk into his office and just feed him solutions? He must stop being lazy and think for once! A president whose best solution to the economy is not engaging his people but praying? We used to say people who don’t listen to advice have wax in their ears, but since PF came about we just say they have sh!t for brains.

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    • We don’t pay Lungu to just sit on his backside and sip Jameson. He needs to show leadership, Do you know what hunger breeds- I will leave this question to you to answer.

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  5. Mr Nkonde, that is your opinion I respect it. But when you suggest an idea does not mean I will take it or leave, it up to me to grant it the go ahead or not. Therefore, the president and his team have the right to reject your proposal “That’s why it is the proposal my dear” So don’t blame ECL for not accepting your idea. Your idea has been REJECTED period.

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    • The same !diot president is the one calling for solutions from everyone, so how should they be put across, through email??

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  6. ….’splendid’….the author has just managed to off load what is on most technocrats’ minds.. me included.. in almost exact way anyone would have put it….there is noway I would call an INDABA with rocket scientist or astronomers to discuss astronomy which I little or know nothing about…
    ..reducing presidency to mare making political appointments and subsequent swearing in…reading speeches prepared by someone else when opening parliament….globe trotting in the name of investor wooing and inter relationship….cutting ribbons to flag off projects and opening/commissioning….chair cabinet…issuing press statements ofcourse written by someone else…constitutes only about 30% of presidents responsibility….the 70% that’s what matter most….

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    • Scrutinizerer: What a rubbi.sh of a statement!! What did you want to say? Can you not communicate? You make half finished statements – who did you want complete them for you? Arse.whore!

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    • …@Chilyata…please refrain from using abusive language to people u may not know…if a posting dazzles you or is not making any sense to you just skip it and proceed to post your comment on the subject….you never know you may be addressing your uncle. the elder brother to your mother..the one who used to pay for your college fees….

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    • @Scrutinizerer: I know it is nearly impossible to take the Jungle out of poverty stricken PF imbeciles and Ars.ewhores lke you!! Ubukopo is your disease – anything else wont so try Nght School!!

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    • …@chinyata….you are definitely outdating phrases like…’never argue with a f00l people may not notice a difference….’…obviously a f00l here can easily be identified rendering the popular phrase irrelevant….
      ….for your info….my ‘political’ party is Zambia and my family….from my posting what suggests to you that I belong to any party..??
      …its my last posting on you because the popular phrase may come into effect…

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  7. Lazy Edgar knows the power of religion on the docile masses its an effective form of mental slavery HENCE the reason for it as you can not question it if you do you are ignorantly pigeon holed as the devil.

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  8. This Kalima Nkonde of theirs is clearly another ID.IOT that thinks Zambia should be copying what is happening in Botswana – NO WE WONT. Just stay with your uneducated Tswana and enjoy their hatred and distaste for Foreigners like you and your children!!
    In Zambia, the Issue of poverty and economic misfortunes is rather self inflicted by electing thieves like SATA and Lungu ito office and they have stolen everything!! They are now calling for Prayers – may be so that they can stop stealing!! That can never ever Happen! Stealing is a way of life for some people and as long as Zambians vote for them, Zambia will never go forward!!

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  9. Comment:The arrogance of pf and Lungu coupled with a desire to use God’s name in vain will surely have a terrible effect on all Zambians especially on poor families and jobless youths. Why is the president more interested in a political gathering than an economic one. That proves that the call for a day of prayer, fasting and reconciliation is not in good faith but Merely meant for political expediency and self preservation.

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  10. Kalima that’s expecting too much from the lazy Jameson. He can’t sit in the same room with people he perceives to be intellectually superior to him. He suffers from a serious form of inferiority complex. Peter Okoye & Sophie Ikenye just scared the pants off him & to expect him to sit with the likes of Saasa, Habazooka, Chitalu, Ndulo, et al. Tall order. The chap is even scared to consult his own bank governor.

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  11. Responsible for what?
    Which responsibility are we talking about?

    Is President Lungu responsibility for the fall of Copper prices?
    Is he responsible for the down turn in the economies of countries who buy our commodity?

    Asking ECL to take responsibility is like asking Barrack and Obama or George Bush to take responsibility for the wars in Iran and Iraq. They wont.

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    • Ba Luapula Premier muleyikala fye mwilalanga ubukopo apa. Mwaya fye mukuloba isabi nagatamukwete ifyakucita

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  12. Zambia is in trouble,the PF leadership have lost navigation!This is confirmation of a failed regime.But worse still,those who are comfortably sharing the eurobonds are still sticking to PF like a tick on a dead dog!Its a flea circus under PF in Zambia. Surprisingly, their (PF) president is so naïve & arrogant to come to terms with the reality on the ground!Chikwanda,Shamenda & Yaluma may resign very soon!There’s really nothing to write home about under PF.Expect more miseries in the coming few months when the eurobond is finished on the market!However,the indaba issue is not my option as for now because we know exactly where we went wrong & we know exactly the solutions-but Lungu had no monies,so implementing these solutions will lender him unpopular,so he will keep these useless…

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  13. True Kalima,

    The Head of State is the supreme government spokesman and he must be seen and heard on crises affecting the country. Look at how Uhuru showed leadership in the aftermath of the Mall attack. Lungu is defensive on almost every issue which proves to me that he is grappling and struggling with his leadership. He must step up to the plate and exude the confidence required of the office. KK for all his faults was never averse in addressing the nation on any matter rightly or wrongly. You cannot leave issues of national importance to the likes of Kambwili and Chama to communicate to the nation. The least Lungu should do is constitute a think tank populated with businessmen of note (FORGET PARTY AFFILLIATIONS AND CADRES), BoZ as suggested by Kalima. And please do suspend further…

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  14. Agreed With Author, However Today We Seem To Ve Difficuties In The Manner We Relate To Each Other, Ther Is No Mor Diplomacy In Our Politics And Instead Insults , An Indaba Wud Expose This Deficiency And So The Veil Of Prayer Wud Perhaps Make It Look Like Gud Men Of Intergrity,, Why Not Agree In An Indaba And Take Resolutions To God In Prayer And Say God Help Us Achieve This, Any Way We Live In A Crazy World!

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  15. Make Resolutions In An Indaba And Take Those To God In Prayer, Be Clear If Fasting, Is It In Repentance Or Demons, Hahah

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  16. Dialogue is needed yes. CEEC example is a bad one, as it is a failed project. To say Mwanawasa left a strong economy because of consultation is not true. Mwanawasa was just strict and made people work.

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  17. Kalima thanks for your observations. I think they make a lot of sense to most people and others are free to disagree and if they do so I expect similar detailed analysis and reflection, not insulting each other. It is such a shame that most of our young people cannot engage in civilized debates. The economic challenges are for all Zambians whether brought by PF or not. We are all in deep soup! We need a solution..Let us bring forth ideas and let us debate with integrity. It is okey to disagree but to insult is to sink too low for a human being, Even animals don’t do that…Debate on.

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  18. It is time to face up to the facts. Zambians were duped into electing an immature and incompetent coward. And now he is ensconced in State House and the economy has dropped like a stone, and he has realised he has no clue what to do about it, his response is to avoid the issue.

    That is why we will never see a press conference, an indaba, or any kind of public interaction from Lungu. He can only hide behind prepared speeches because he is too ashamed and scared to put his ignorance and incompetence on display.

    This Emperor has no clothes, AND HE KNOWS IT!!!

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  19. The idea of an Indaba is a further waste of the even meagre resources that we have. In the early 2000s (after the Anglo-American pull out from KCM) there was the Copperbelt diversification conference/programme headed by Dr Sixtus Mulenga & the then VP Kavindele, they ended up talking about cassava. What came out of it? Nothing. We had one in 2009 under Banda. What came out of it? Nothing! If LPM’s & RB’s indabas produced nothing, what makes u think drunkard Lungu’s indaba will produce results? Idiocy is repeating the same thing & expecting different results! Standard test mental patients at Chainama who are asked to transport water in a peforated tin over & over again. Rather retrieve the recommendations of the 2002 & 2009 indabas by a small team of civil servants/experts from relevant…

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  20. CONTD: ministries/stakeholders to check what has NOT been done but ought to have been done (tweak the recommendations as required) & follow through on a monthly, quarterly etc basis. At least that is ACTION rather than spending allowances, accommodation/lodging and travel costs on a talk shop. As for the 300k spent on chartering a plane to NY, that is water under the bridge. No way of recovering it. Whereas wastage on allowance motivated, talk shops can be avoided. Farmers have not received inputs for 2015/16 season becoz of lack of cash? Now tell me, what is better _ to spend 1 to 2million usd (without inflated invoices/claims of allowances otherwise actual final costs will be higher) on a talking shop for academicians, unionists and civil servants or to spend such money on agric inputs…

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  21. CONTD1: agric inputs as a matter of urgency? Imagine the effects of a collapsed economy, loadshedding & a poor harvest (hunger) next year. Mr kalima Nkonde don’t was time preaching to an arrogant govt that is immune to advice rather use your time & energy to write a book like Dambisa Moyo & make some money for yourself & Zambia. When the Chinese, Lebanese etc decide to come to make the green back in Zambia they don’t stand on an anthill to preach their mission nor hold national indaba’s at tax payers expense. Rather on an individual or corporate level, the strategize & invade/actualise their plans. Yes they will hold Sino –Africa conferences to bribe our leaders as a small part of their execution of strategy! Action NOT blah blah blah!

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  22. When ECL was campaing, he was saying he’ll be a servant! Is he really a servant? We’ll see him next year

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  23. Thank you Kalima for another well-thought out article, and most importantly, objective. Not sure how true the reports are that Hon Kambwili na ba Freedom Sikazwe lamented that there are real problems needing to be admitted and faced head-on as a collective. Unfortunately a lot of finger pointing was raised in the same article. What is at stake is not ba Lungu, or ba PF, not even UPND, but rather ichalo chesu. If it continues to go down, our relatives and friends will bear the brunt and ultimately all of us kunse cos we still need to come home one days:)

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  24. An estimated 90% of able bodied Zambian citizens are engaged only in informal work. Put differently, less than a million Zambians have a formal job. The Kariba hydro dam was built between 1955 and 1959 when Zambia’s population was less than 4 million. President Lungu and majority of his cabinet colleagues were not even born when that electricity project was initiated. These problems were not created by Lungu, therefore to suggest that Lungu is responsible is absolute BS. This is why Zambia is in such a state because it’s so called learned people are failing to analyse issues properly. As we speak the Nigeria naira has slumped not because of corruption but the falling prices of oil.

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  25. I wonder what the international community is thinking about Zambia! I am an adent christian but i am aware that God has given us the wisdom to think. What the president is proposing is like someone has seen a lion and realise s/he cant run then decides to kneel down and start praying. The bible says there is time for everything, time to pray and time to work. The time right now is to engage in critical thinking and work. Like the author rightly noted, you cant provide religious and political solutions to an economical problem. Economical problem requires an economical solution and a political problem alike requires a political solution. Dr. Kaunda has already lifted a curse from Zambia and released the presidency and the people of Zambia from all evil forces. Obviously there is a price…

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  26. It is a pity you guys speak volumes of nothings and demand for more talking about nothings… to spend more time talking about nothings. Some of you might have thought that we are not there….because of the silence. There are lessons to everything that an individual or nation passes through.
    What is required for now is a gatherings for serious praying before you engage in any other talks. Prayer comes first for Zambia is a Christian nation. We pray to God the giver of all things that we need. Then can we gather to discuss any issue in a conducive atmosphere. Also we must ask God to provide a conducive platform for the INDABA. That way the discussion INDABA shall be meaningful.
    It is a pity hh thinks differently but it is understood as hh is anti God in most of what he says. hh is a…

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  27. hh is a businessman even in prayer he will be thinking of business…how to chema his animals…how much profit…that’s so. … Leave him out of the prayers for he is not a Christian. He will just spoil the Prayers that Zambian nation needs….. There are other opposition political parties that should participate in the prayers.

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  28. Ba Kalima wesu,
    Don’t forget that mwanawasa left the seemingly health economy due to debt cancellation after a hipc completion that was started by Chiluba. Please research before you pour your ignorance in public.

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  29. From what he has shown so far, first and foremost HH does not want the prayer meeting for purely personal reasons. If he attends the prayer meeting in Lusaka for example, he will be expected to give courtesy to the head of state, if he does not it’s bad publicity for him. A priest will also pray for the leadership of this country, I mean Edgar, and HH would hate any good thing to be wished for Edgar.
    But I have a suggestion to make to HH, he can attend a prayer meeting in Monze, not Lusaka, there he will just have to contend with a prayer for the heaf of state but not physically respecting Mr President.
    Those are the only issues with HH not the reasons he has given, don”t be misled just attend the prayers whether HH is there or not.

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    • @Terrible
      I could not agree more with you- your are really terrible in your thinking if not warped. All what HH is saying to PF is that they need to start thinking and taking actions to arrest the situation and not just sitting on their backsides hoping the situation will sort itself out. There is a saying which goes ‘ God helps those who help themselves. How do you explain the issues below;
      -Chartering a $300,000 jet
      – Creating 5 ministries
      – President don’t holding a press conference to assure the nation
      All these happening in the midst of the economy collapse. What message are we sending to God. They are fooling us, because we Zambians are gullible. Ala Bane Tukose, I’m sure when we come out these doldrums we will wiser.

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  30. Me I will attend the prayer meeting to organised by Zambians in Canada, come rain or shine, snow or not, and fast too from 6 to 6, whether underfive likes it or not.

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