United Progressive Party President Savior Chishimba says his party refused to attend Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony in order to register its concern over the huge amount of public funds that the PF Government spent organising the event.
Dr Chishimba said the swearing in ceremony was the most glamorous, superfluous and costly since independence.
He said flat screen TVs have been mounted across the country and that jet fuel has been purchased not to mention fuel for military trucks and GRZ vehicles, military hardware has also been moved to Heroes Stadium which had been the case everyday over the past seven days of rehearsals.
Dr Chishimba observed that battalions of Zambia Army, Zambia Police, Zambia National Service and Zambia Air Force have been ferried at a great cost to simply go and march and fly past the President.
“Hire of entertainment groups and the hosting of a state banquette are just some of the costs. Compare this with the swearing in function of an American President and you will discover that the USA, as rich as it, does not spend millions of dollars on such a ceremony,” Dr Chishimba said.
“President Kaunda never spent such amounts. President Chiluba was sworn-in at a simple one-hour ceremony at the Supreme Court in 1991 and 1996. President Mwanawasa was first sworn-in at the Supreme Court in 2001/02, and then at Parliament Buildings in 2006 and this became the smallest ceremony ever. President Banda was sworn-in at Parliament Buildings in 2008. President Sata equally refused to be sworn-in at the show grounds to reduce costs and he chose to be sworn-in at the Supreme Court.”
“To our dismay, the PF-MMD, under Mr. Edgar Lungu has since 2015 entertained wasteful and unjustifiable public expenditure on a simple exercise of taking the oath of office,” he said.
Dr Chishimba said the country is faced with the repayment of US$9.75 billion public debt that the PF has contracted over the past five years.
“Other issues include the challenge of job creation for the youth, achieving universal access to healthcare and education to over 15 million Zambians, and solving the energy crisis etc.”
“We are aware in the UPP that the PF is now set to do what they wanted to in December 2015, but prevaricated for election purposes. They now want to increase electricity tariffs by 300%, fuel by 50% as well as remove subsidies on agriculture and this will push the price of mealie meal by over 100%.”
He stated, “A wage freeze for civil servants, defence and security personnel is imminent – it’s back to business as usual “let the civil servants and the people sacrifice as the leaders enjoy”. When I resigned as MP (3 weeks before millions of midterm gratuities were paid), I categorically refused to be part of a leadership that cares for its pockets and stomachs on the sweat and blood of Zambians.”
He said today, Zambia has seen the majority of the same people recycled back into government.
“The period of dancing and vote buying, as we saw during the elections, is over today and it’s back to reality in our individual homes. It’s no longer about who won the election and how he won or who lost and why he lost, it’s about the issues that are before all of us as Zambians. If there was electoral fraud, as we know it those of us with evidence, we shall leave it to God to judge.”
Dr Chishimba said the next five-year period under the PF-MMD is a worrisome one going by the way profligate spending is being witnessed today over an ordinary exercise of oath of office administration.
“African leaders must mature and put their people first by focussing on priorities with an understanding that it’s not the size of a ceremony that makes a great president but the number of lives that are transformed by a President.”