WE’RE IN A MESS …Lungu must reflect on our problems – Milupi
By Lulumbi Nakazwe and Chisha Chongo
CHARLES Milupi says Zambia is in a mess and President Edgar Lungu must now seriously reflect on the country’s problems than embarking on endless international trips.
President Lungu yesterday travelled to South Africa, his latest and sixth trip abroad in less than 30 days.
The Head of State has so far been to Angola, Morocco, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritius within a month.
State House, through spokesperson Amos Chanda, has tried defending President Lungu’s travels, calling them necessary.
Chanda said during ZNBC’s Sunday Interview programme that the trips that President Lungu was undertaking were important for building partnerships with other governments.
But Milupi, the Alliance for Democracy and Development president, said those defending President Lungu’s travels were doing him a great disservice.
He said it is hypocritical for President Lungu to be globetrotting under severe economic circumstances.
“People defending President Lungu’s travels are doing him a great disservice. They should just openly tell him that ‘Ba President, this is not the way to run this country’ because the country at the moment is in a mess; we are in serious mess,” Milupi said.
He wondered whether President Lungu had time to reflect on the problems the country was facing if he spent most of his time outside Zambia.
“It is unfortunate and hypocritical for the President under these severe economic circumstances to talk about austerity measures and in fact to hoodwink the Zambians with the supposed cut of his salary by half. For his own information, one presidential trip outside the country with his delegation, costs associated with that are many times more than his annual salary,” Milupi said.
“To come to the Zambians when they are tightening their belts and say ‘I am cutting my salary in half’ but he is travelling outside the country four to five times in a month with his delegation is being hypocritical. In my view and in ADD ‘s view as a party, the greatest challenge the country is facing is the deteriorating economy. Our economy requires urgent attention.”
He said Zambia needed workable and visible austerity measures starting from those in government, especially the President’s office.
“We know that he does not use his salary to buy mealie meal or relish at State House. All those things are funded by the state. We know that he has not even said anything about his retirement package. He has not said that even his retirement package will be cut in half,” Milupi said.
He said it was critical for the PF government to focus on issues affecting Zambia.
“The problems our economy is facing will not be solved by people staying away from their offices and going all over the place. I have worked in companies where when there is a crisis, that’s when top management meet overnight for several days strategising to come up with solutions. That’s what you give now to the rest of the workforce,” Milupi said.
“For example, if you look at load shedding, I shudder to think of how companies are operating now. This is an issue that requires urgent attention. The shortage of electricity in this country should have been declared an emergency. They would have sat down to see how they were going to sort out this problem to ensure that industries are producing so that we maintain employment, taxes and revenue that goes in the national treasury.”
He said President Lungu’s frequent visits outside Zambia were a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“He must understand that Zambia is not like a European or an American country. We have wrongly put so much power in one office; the president’s office. Nothing happens when the president is not around. If the minister tries to do anything sensible, they say he is trying to take over from the President and he gets fired. So, everybody waits for the President and when he is busy gallivanting, there is no one to give direction,” Milupi said.
Meanwhile, Milupi said the PF was desperate to hang on to power and would attack anybody who challenges their actions.
He described as disgraceful the PF’s attacks on LAZ president Linda Kasonde.
“The PF attacks on Linda Kasonde are absolutely disgraceful. I think Linda Kasonde, being the first lady chairperson of the LAZ, has displayed professionalism and bravery and she needs to be commended for what she is doing. She has every right to express the association’s opinion on matters affecting the application of laws in this country. She has every right to express the association’s opinion on matters affecting the governance of this country,” said Milupi.
“They [PF] are so desperate to hang on that they will attack anybody who voices opinion as to what is happening in this country. So I encourage the Law Association of Zambia to continue what they are doing.”
The PF, through secretary general Davies Chama and other propagandists, said they would now treat Kasonde as a political enemy and accused her of being a UPND sympathiser after she, on behalf of LAZ, condemned Chanda’s attacks on the judiciary.