INFORMATION minister Dora Siliya says government has no reason to give false information about government debt.
And Siliya says Zambian politicians should stop dragging the United Nations into politics.
Briefing the press yesterday, Siliya said there was need for Zambians to be patriotic.
“It is important to remember that we members of the media are not in a vacuum; we are part of this country. As we engage to report our news, it is important that we remember that we belong to this country as well. It may be different for the international media but you are part of this country. I was extremely concerned to see the Bloomberg report circulating which was not factual based on the presentation by the Minister of Finance last Friday. The Minister of Finance was very categorical in stating that the debt for Zambia is US$8.7 billion as of December 2017. To insinuate that government is not being truthful, especially by Zambian journalists, I think it’s purely being unpatriotic,”
“First of all, government has absolutely no reason to give false data because when government owes, it means that there is somebody out there that the government of the Republic of Zambia, the people of Zambia; you and me…that we owe. When the government owes, it’s the Central Bank of Zambia that has to pay that external debt. When government releases information and says that debt is US$8.7 billion, it means that is the debt. One, because we know that is the debt we have contracted, two, because somebody out there knows that we owe them and three, because the institution that pays that external debt is the Bank of Zambia. It is not possible and it is not in the interest of the people of Zambia, whom government is representing, not to be able to give truthful information.”
She said it would be wrong for the government to lie to the public about the country’s debt.
“What interest would we have to lie? To serve who? It’s all in the interest of the country, isn’t it? It is in the interest of all of us. If that is not done, is it only the government that would suffer? It is the people of Zambia and we have a responsibility to the people of Zambia as an elected government and as such the best way for us to work is to be truthful, transparent and be as clear as possible…including the very tough austerity measures we took in the last two years,”
And Siliya said it was unfortunate that some politicians had started dragging the UN into politics.
“On the UN, I think that as Zambians we must become responsible for our own country. We must love our country and put Zambia first. In a political dispensation, it means that to disagree, it’s not to destroy your own country. I believe that the politics we do must become civil enough. If we begin to pull in…today we pull in this one in our politics, tomorrow this one…I think it’s not a situation which is conducive. It is sad that now we want to bring an organisation such as the UN, which has done great work not only in Zambia but around the world…we want to drag it into our politics because of selfish individuals. The relationship we have with the UN is something that we want to nurture,” Siliya said.
“On the UN report which was not on the 2016 elections per se but on the general character in the country every time we go towards elections…I think this issue of militarisation of our so called cadres, President Lungu has been in the forefront of stating to the PF that he is not going to accept violence as a way of doing politics. PF cadres who have in any way attempted to use violence have not been spared. It doesn’t help anyone to believe that the only way to get into office is by using violence because at the end of the elections, you want to govern a peaceful country.”
Meanwhile, Siliya said as far as the government was concerned, the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) would lead the dialogue process.
“The debate that is going on about dialogue…the government position is very clear; we have set for ourselves the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue. It is at that platform that this government, which is PF, and every other opposition party in Zambia and other stakeholders will go to table the issues and it is the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) which we have all agreed to be the convenor of this meeting and push the process forward. As government and the PF, we are very happy to dialogue with whoever wants to dialogue but we cannot endlessly talk about dialogue. I think what we should be doing now is that every interested stakeholder should be preparing their issues, submit to ZCID, then let’s get on with the process,” she said.
“Let us allow the ZCID to do its work as all political parties agreed, then from there follow the roadmap that will be set out by ZCID so that we can carry this process forward. I am also happy to announce that the Ministry of Finance will in the course of next week release K200 million to pay the small and medium contractors and consultants in the road sector. We want to address our local contractors immediately so that beginning next week they can be paid and we can continue to do jobs in this sector. It is in that line too that the President emphasised that fees coming from toll gates continue to be ploughed back into road maintenance.”
Meanwhile, Siliya said government had spent over K129 million on the fight against Cholera.
“Last week there were minimal cases of Cholera recorded I think three cases at the University of Zambia and Kalingalinga. It is important that we invest in water and sanitation to avoid continued spending of money to fight diseases that can be prevented like Cholera,” she said.
Siliya also said government was looking for solutions to sort out the problems at Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail so as to save jobs and continue production of the newspapers.