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Friday, May 20, 2022

President Hichilema lied, unfortunately that’s typical of politicians especially when they are in the opposition

Columns President Hichilema lied, unfortunately that’s typical of politicians especially when they are...

By Frazer Bwalya Musonda

The year was 2013, the then government of President Michael Sata had removed subsidies on Maize and fuel. I had stayed for more than a year without work after my graduation, and hearing about this pronouncement made me annoyed, I remember this vividly as if it was yesterday. I had earlier moved from Mufulira (my hometown) to Lusaka (in Mtendere compound) to stay with my brother and I remember the mood mukomboni was that of disappointment with King Cobra.

Perhaps I, and the majority of the people I interacted with in Mtendere, had a very limited background in economics and did not fully understand the rationale behind such an unpopular decision by the PF government. A common argument then, was that President Sata had recycled an old politician from the UNIP era to preside over the ministry of finance and perhaps this was the problem.

In order to find closure regarding this issue, a lot of us turned to the economist who was then opposition UPND president, Hakainde Hichilema. President Hichilema was clear on his opposition to the removal of subsidies. In one of his appearances in June of 2013 on Radio Ichengelo in Kitwe, President Hichilema referred to subsidies as “a lifeblood” and that the PF government had removed subsidies for their selfish benefits. “The Euro bond is still idle in the banks, you mean you can only bring about infrastructure development in the country by removing subsidies from essential commodities?” he had questioned. He further argued that as a result of increasing the cost of production through wrong policies, companies were going to lay off workers because they were going to be scared of the long term effects. He later called the PF government a “mediocre government” that needed to be removed from power and that once elected into government, the UPND was going to bring back subsidies.

In the same month, President Hichilema even attacked the World Bank for supporting the removal of subsidies by the Zambian government. He even challenged them to prove him otherwise on his stance against the removal of subsidies. I, and probably, that was the case for the many people I had interacted with in Mtendere then, were super excited to hear such pronouncements from the “son of the soil”. He had made it big in business and now wanted to help this lovely country prosper. To add icing on the cake, President Hichilema even said he was going to reverse the decision by President Sata to remove subsidies once elected in 2016.

He never succeeded at the ballot box in 2016. Fast forward in 2019 when the 2021 elections were fast approaching, specifically in September, President Hichilema mocked the PF government with the famous “Iwe Ka HH” excel spreadsheet. In this spreadsheet, he presented how he was going to reduce the pump price for fuel by K4. He emphasized that fuel was going to be cheaper once those measures on his excel spreadsheet were implemented. The same year in December, President Hichilema claimed that the PF government was broke and thus wanted to “tax us to death”. He even reminded them of the excel spreadsheet he came up with 3 months earlier, that was going to lower fuel prices.

Now just after 100 days in office after winning the August 2021 elections, President Hichilema has removed subsidies on fuel, one of the main things he strongly opposed as an opposition leader. He has remained relatively quiet on this issue and has relegated everything to his Finance minister (also a recycled politician). With the advent of social media, I have been seeing a lot of discussions regarding this topic. One thing I have picked up from these discussions is how UPND hardcore supporters are trying to justify this move even when they know deep down their hearts that it’s against what they campaigned for.

Because Facebook shows one’s friend’s activities, I stumbled upon a video in my news feed, recorded live by Mubita Nawa. He, trying to justify the removal of subsidies, came up with the “30 eggs” analogy. I was very eager to listen…. Mr. Nawa talked about how the PF hid “15 eggs” out of the “30” as the main problem. He mentioned in detail the problems “egg by egg” as, Euro bonds, domestic debt etc.… but the moment he mentioned “meal allowances for students, retirees camping at Chief Justice for 6 months, PF making prisoners to vote”, I immediately knew the analogy wasn’t well thought over. My thinking was, “This is a guy who jumped onto the UPND campaign team when it was clear they were going to win, made a social media presence and yet hasn’t been rewarded with a job”. Perhaps he is just trying to be relevant.

In the video, Mr. Nawa claimed that HH, then in the opposition, genuinely and sincerely looked at the “30 eggs” (implying all resources available in the country) and made promises thinking all the “30 eggs” were available. What Mr. Nawa forgets is that HH and the UPND actually never believed the official debt figures for Zambia then. 11 months after President Hichilema released the “excel spreadsheet” detailing how fuel pump prices were going to be reduced by K4, he had claimed that Zambia’s debt was $18 billion while the official figure was $12.7 billion. The argument by Mr. Nawa that President Hichilema found a lot of debt (that he never expected) does not make sense at all. President Hichilema in his estimations was 1.4 times higher than what was prevailing on the ground. It actually made me sad seeing people tagging others and saying “this explanation from Mr. Nawa is making sense”. The eggs analogy was a flop PLEASE.

On the other side, the eloquent Anthony Bwalya has also tried to defend the position of the government. In a video that UPND sympathizers have even captioned “CLIQUE OF THIEVES EXPOSED: PF SUBSIDY THEFT TACTICS” that was sent to me on WhatsApp by a friend, Mr. Bwalya argues that subsidies were not meant for the ordinary Zambian. That they were benefiting former ministers who owned trucks for fuel transportation and had inflated transportation costs. My immediate thought after I heard that statement from Anthony was, why not remove these former ministers from transporting the fuel and then realize a normal transportation cost? That way subsidies remain and the problem is solved. How then does removing subsidies ensure that these thieving former ministers are curtailed?

For me, the problem is not the removal of subsidies that has annoyed me about President Hichilema, but his lies (a virtue he said the PF possessed- Chipantepante he used to call it). He is not addressing this issue with the zeal he had when he requested a meeting with the media a few days in office and his representatives are definitely not doing a good job. The Vice President recently said “We have to increase fuel prices “a bit” so that we can reduce them”. I have gone through that statement a lot of times and it still doesn’t make sense. Our area MP in Kankoyo has even adopted a hashtag #shrink2grow trying to justify this. Of course, he has allowances from Parliament and won’t be affected any single bit by the removal of subsidies.

Lastly….Ironically, the K4 reduction that was proposed from the famous excel spreadsheet has actually resulted in a K4 increase in fuel prices today. This was previously called “Chipantepante”

42 COMMENTS

  1. Our mind set is all so wrong. So, would anyone rather he doesn’t do the right thing because he had said otherwise? Is it him who reckless borrowed? Why is he doing this in the first place? It’s plain annoying to focus on the outcome than what has brought us to this point in the first place. The man is hurting but this is a bitter pill to swallow. Does anyone have an alternative than a catalogue of what was said then?

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  2. Frazer, your article is written as a concerned citizen. Yes ALL POLITICIANS LIE for political mileage and to convince the uneducated voters. This has been the case not only in Zambia BUT ALL OVER THE WORLD – ALL POLITICIANS ARE TWO FACED.

    our only hope is
    1. THAT THE SAVINGS ON THE SUBSIDIES MADE WILL TRICKLE DOWN TO THE POOR IN TERMS OF EDUCATION, MEDICAL, EMPLOYMENT ETC.
    2. IF THE IMF LOAN BRINGS CONFIDENCE, MORE FOREX WILL FLOW IN THE COUNTRY MAKING THE KWACHA STRONGER AND HOPEFULLY KWACHA WILL APPRECIATE AND COST OF GOODS WILL GET CHEAPER TO COUNTER THE INCREASE IN FUEL.
    3. THAT THE GOVT THIS TIME HAS THE POLITICAL WILL TO CARRY OUT THE STRATEGY TO 2026 HOWEVER UNPOPULAR IT WILL BE – MAYBE THEN WE WILL SEE THE BENEFIT.
    4. YES THEY HAVE LIED LIKE ALL OTHERS AND LET US HOPE THEY…

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  3. Doing the right is having the courage to explain to people what you are doing. Why hide if the intentions are good? Secondly, if all the promises were lies,what makes you believe that the intentions are now genuine?

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  4. Now every idyot’s barking article is posted on LT.
    Shutdown LT, time of its relevance is gone.
    LT is now a toilet paper.

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  5. No word on how the debt the PF government carelessly piled up high is going to be repaid. Not good enough, Frazer Musonda from someone who should know better.

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  6. Transparency is what we require from the UPND. HH needs to come out and explain where the money is going. Everyone else is claiming that the money is going to their ministry. To settle the debate, let HH make a statement and let him explain what is going on here.

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  7. @Nemwine, its not the author’s job to explain how the debt will be repaid.
    The government has not said they will use the money they will save to repay our debt. We are lacking transparency in this matter, that’s the only problem.
    Let’s not defend things without facts.

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  8. There was no need for the Sata administration then to remove subsidies because the world economy was pumping then, the mines were producing more than now, the great disruptor called covid had not yet come, so HH did not lie, it is just the different times we live in

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  9. I take it this dismayed youth is one of the hh duped youth. You have outlined how gradually you were swindled of your moral consciousness to reason with figures, knowledge and wisdom.
    Thus saith the lord, “My people perish for lack of knowledge…”
    “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
    You failed to harken to the voice of reason.
    This amount of jibberish you tabulated sentence by sentence will take you nowhere. We saw hh for what he is. He showed ignorance on statements when he was making promises; not a concrete action plan to his wishful thinking.
    We warned you didn’t we? We prepared this…

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  10. And the PF who in 2011 told us that they would be more money in our pockets and in 2021 when they were kicked out of office we had none told us lies or the truth. HH has a five year mandate, there is a reason why a term is five years, what if he restores back the subsidies in the five years, what are you going to write

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  11. The problem here are assumptions our leaders make. Listening to Mweetwa on Sunday interview, you will realise these guys are not sure what a subsidy actually is and the benefits that it brings to citizens.

  12. Must be hard to be a proclaimed 2.8 . You have to justify the unjustifiable. Meantime cost of leaving is killing you also. Wait the cost of other commodities has not catch up. By 20th January. Up and down will be lucky to come out second in kabwata

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  13. Politics is a latin word, poli meaning meaning ”many” and tics meaning blood ”sucking creatures”, politics is an art of promising heaven and delivering hell, simple.

  14. Politics is a latin word, ”Poli” meaning many and ”tics” meaning blood sucking creatures, Politics is an art of promising heaven and delivering hell, simple.

  15. The Author is failing to realise that majority of problems we face in Zambia are caused by the voters themselves.

    Because of sweet talk we voted out Rupiah Banda in favour of PF more money in the pocket lie.

    Now we have voted HH because he said PF are corrupt and that he will reduce fuel pump price.

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  16. We warned you ba f00Iish disgruntled youth. You thought you knew better than us. You are now paying for your arrogance and inflated self importance. You deserve to suffer under this govt so that you learn to appreciate what pf did for your lazy smelly backsides. I have woken up feeling unwell. Whoever is trying to bewitch me you want manage

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  17. It is good the chickens are coming home to roost. HH lied through his teeth and the unsuspecting, gullible voters fell flat for his lies. For us who had been through the IMF and World Bank driven SAP of the 1980s and 1990s, we knew HH was not Zambia’s messiah and was going to bring more hardship to many Zambians and only make his ilk in foreign mining firms, friends and cadres in government and himself richer. There should be no illusions here that ordinary Zambians will come out of the Hichilema neo-liberal economic policies better. When bank interest rates fall and money is taken out of the economy, Zambians can only expect more misery upon misery. With rising interest rates, poor Zambians cannot expect to go to a commercial bank and borrow to start or expand their business. They can…

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  18. I mean to say ” when bank interest rates rise and money is taken out of the economy…” and not ” when bank interest rates fall and money is taken out of the economy…”

  19. Fred M’membe wrote this on why IMF programmes guarantee us nothing:
    A policy of high-interest rate and lower government expenditure is advised (imposed) in an effort to maintain foreign investor confidence. But since this policy causes financial difficulties to local firms and banks, and increases recessionary pressures, the level of confidence in the currency may also not be maintained….[But] most IMF policies imposed on countries that face financial problems and economic slowdown are opposite to the policies adopted by (and encouraged for) developed countries, such as the US, which normally reduce interest rates to as low a level as needed and which boost government expenditures, so as to increase effective demand, counter recessionary pressures and spark a recovery.

  20. When PF was taking over from MMD, exchange rate was K7 to a dollar, Inflation was at 6%, fuel per litre was at K7 and all the economic fundamentals were very strong then, that the inexperienced PF just needed to consolidate and not remove subsidies, the PF has left our economy in a ditch, inflation at 23%, exchange rate at K22 to a dollar, reserves gone and somebody was boasting that they left 3 billion, far from the truth, with where we are now, there is no choice but to swallow the bullet, subsidies must go, as Zambians we are SOLIDLY behind the UPND government. We chose them and they must continue making decisions on our behalf

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  21. Amos Chanda has correctly advised the self destructive PF party that rebranding does not mean just issuing statements and going to author articles on Lusaka times, but it is falling on deaf ears, all we have is moribunds from PF blogging instead of trying to salvage their late party. PF is in the museum like UNIP and David Livingstone who founded the Victoria Falls kikiki

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  22. PF is in the museum, there is UNIP, David livingstone and his journeys, Robert Moffat and others, PF the worst paryt to have ever ruled Zambia is in its rightful place, you can visit the museum and read about them now, if you have appetite to read man made disasters as PF was such one

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  23. Is the author from the two tribes which were ruling before August elections, I am just asking. Thanks HH for the tribal balancing in your government, we now feel the one Zambia one nation breath

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  24. Marvin this country is being run by LIARS who have no idea how govt operates. They concocted sweet lies and sold them to you our children who believe in calculators. Bally will fix it they said. Kambwili said it all but we never paid attention. During the 1990 multiparty democracy campaigns, FTJ clearly explained the SAP ( Structural Adjustment Program which the IMF would bring to Zambia after 1991 election and we the people agreed that we were ready to sacrifice but UPND used lies to obtain political power and have now turned 360 degrees. They don’t deserve even the first 5 years because babufi.

  25. @Frazer Bwalya Musonda “Mr. Bwalya argues that subsidies were not meant for the ordinary Zambian. That they were benefiting former ministers who owned trucks for fuel transportation and had inflated transportation costs. My immediate thought after I heard that statement from Anthony was, why not remove these former ministers from transporting the fuel and then realize a normal transportation cost? ”
    VERY CATCHY !!!
    @Frazer Bwalya Musonda – YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND HOW THOSE MINISTERS WERE BENEFITING, THE SUBSIDIES WERE BEING INFLATED AS A TRANSPORTATION COST, INSTEAD OF THEM CLAIMING e.g 5KWACHA, THEY CLAIMED 8KWACHA. THE POINT IS NOT REMOVING TRANSPORTERS, BUT FOR THEM TO USE MARKET PRICE.

  26. Indeed, everyone went lovey-dovey with
    the man who promised heaven on earth. But, not to despair too much. New experiences almost always leave us with many lessons learnt – so that, in future, we don’t take the same wrong route again. There is hope yet; it’s not completely lost!

    #plant a tree now please!

  27. This is not the first time fuel prices have been hiked in Zambia neither the last time. PF should not talk as if they never adjusted the prices of fuel during their tenure of office. So stop hallucinating over fuel price hikes and get on with life. Its not writing lengthy articles which will change the situation. And you PF characters are telling me that all what the former president and other leaders said and talked about was true. And even you the people yapping tell me if you have never told a lie in your life time including the so called Kaizer Zulu. Jesus told the characters who brought a woman cought in the very act of adultery to be the first to cast a stone at her if they had no sin. They all disappeared. These PF goons just want to find amour to get at HH. Just sober up…

  28. We have a smart conman in state house that is all. Before we wake up Zambia will be deeply divided. People who have refused to think where only thinking during the PF regime. Now even the so called civil organisations, the so called re known academic who are actually cadres in academic regalia are all trying to justify the blatant mistakes being committed by their small god Vasco Dagama.

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  29. I meant that I do not understand your rantings. Everytime criticism is levelled against upnd, instead of attending to it, you start your narrative attacking PF. What you forget is people are getting tired of that because it’s upnd in power and not PF
    So deal with the issues and forget PF. Otherwise, you will not realize how quickly time passes and before you know it, bang! 2026.

  30. Who in this life hasn’t said one thing then when circumstances change or new info comes they say something else? Frazer Bwalya Musonda too has done what he’s condemning HH for.

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