On the evidence of yesterday’s lengthy, disjointed, and rumbling press briefing, Government can conclude that United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema has nothing to offer the Zambian people apart from his showboating and grandstanding.
Mr Hichilema’s three-hour briefing, at best, was testimony of what is wrong with his style of politics; at worst, it was proof that he is out of touch with the Zambian people.
From his briefing, an unstructured monologue that he himself and only himself could contextualise, it is clear that Mr Hichilema is full of himself and not even his closest allies in UPND know how to advise him.
Instead of laying down his programme of action for the coming four years as an opposition leader, Mr Hichilema wasted people’s time scavenging around the perceived wrongs that the PF Government have committed, name-calling and distorting facts.
But Government will not be distracted from its mission of turning around the country through well thought out policies that have seen countrywide infrastructure development including the building of roads, hospitals, airports and schools, to mention but a few.
Contrary to Mr Hichilema’s prediction of doom and gloom, Government’s focus for the coming years in the area of expenditure will be in agriculture, tourism, industrialisation and SME development, energy and logistics infrastructure, dismantling of arrears, health, education and social protection.
Contrary to Mr Hichilema’s untruths, Government will scale-up the utilisation of Public Private Partnership (PPP), particularly in infrastructure such as roads which will see job creation, protection of people’s lives from accidents, and improvement of people’s livelihoods.
Ignoring Mr Hichilema’s fears that the country’s assets have been auctioned through loans, Government will increase financing of its budget from domestically generated resources, targeting to finance 69.4 of the Economic Stabilisation and Growth Programme (ESGP) from domestic revenues. The ESGP is Government’s response to current economic challenges.
Contrary to detractors like Mr Hichilema’s assertions, in 2017, growth is projected to rise to 4.3 percent and at least 5.0 percent in 2018 and beyond. Inflation is projected to be sustained at single digit of around 9 percent before ranging between 6-8 percent during the medium-term commencing 2018.
The improvement in growth and other macroeconomic indicators is premised on effective implementation of corrective actions outlined in the programme.
Monetary policy will be re-aligned to Government’s fiscal consolidation measures without compromising inflation and growth objectives. Government will work towards dismantling arears owed to suppliers of goods and services, as well as contractors. Government will at the same time ensure that the country remains within sustainable debt levels.
All these principles are enshrined in the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP), 2017 – 2021 and it remains to be see what the UPND have to the contrary as Mr Hichilema missed the opportunity yesterday to tell the nation.
Zambians should, therefore, be wary of politicians who are nothing but proverbial armchair critics hell-bent to incite people against their elected Government.
Government also wishes to encourage bodies like the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) not to be cowed by the likes of Mr Hichilema, who at the same meeting assailed the regulator and claimed they want to close Prime Television. The IBA has summoned many stations before, even this year, and there has been no hullaballoo, so it is interesting that Mr Hichilema is so obsessed with the summoning of Prime Television.
Conversely, Mr Hichilema says there is no freedom of the press and expression in Zambia yet now Zambia has 115 radio stations and 44 television stations under the watch of the Patriotic Front Government. Zambians have never had the freedom to express themselves on so many different media platforms as they are doing now. And they are doing it with candour.
Zambians have been meeting and socialising in pubs, hotels and lodges and, therefore, it is surprising that Mr Hichilema sees Zambians consigned to their homes under the PF Government. Government will allow, the people of Zambia to speak for themselves.
Hon. Kampbamba Mulenga, MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING SERVICES AND CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON