MBABALA UPND member of parliament Ephraim Belemu has likened the 2019 national budget to ‘chitanta baluya’ (carrier of fools).
And Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo has told Zambians to hold on because “it will soon come to pass.”
Chitanta baluya, in Lenje, is an antiquated bus that travels usually from Landless Corner on Great North Road to Mumbwa, at snail’s pace and annoyingly develops intermittent breakdowns.
The road worthiness of chitanta baluya is always unquestionably defective.
Debating the national budget in Parliament on Wednesday, Belemu argued that the budget was framed around: “very misleading assumptions, very untrue concepts, very wrong theories around it, and therefore, it cannot be supported.
“Its figures are sitting on a wrong structure, wrong architecture and therefore, sooner than later they are going to collapse because there is nothing holding them. This budget is flawed!” Belemu told the House.
“She (finance minister Margaret Mwanakatwe) makes an assertion that because we are about to finish [constructing] the terminal building at the [Kenneth Kaunda] International Airport, therefore we are on our way to making Zambia an air transport hub. Why didn’t she ask why countries that had better airport terminal buildings than us for a very long have never become air transport hubs? You can have a big house and still have no visitors! There is an assertion by the minister that because we are renovating Mulungushi International Conference Centre, Zambia is going to be a meetings and convention destination.”
On Mwanakatwe’s intimation that she would be going to the World Bank and IMF later this month, Belemu asked: “What message are you carrying from Zambia regarding the IMF and World Bank because in your government there are those who think that they can do away with the IMF because they have new friends in China?
“When you arrive there, what message are you carrying on behalf of all of us? You need to make that clear; ‘this is what I’m going to do with the IMF, this is the position of the country.’ You don’t need to construct what you are going to say there when you come back; you need to tell us what you are taking there. How can you go and listen then you make a decision there alone?” he asked.
Belemu said that he could not support the 2019 national budget.
“Honourable Minister, I have got troubles [to support the budget] – until you reconcile certain things in it. Honourable Mwashingwele brought to my attention one bus sometime [back] and I had the first experience of this bus. I used the Landless Corner – Mumbwa road. At a place called Nambwa, I found a bus [with] two tyre punctures [and had] no spare wheel and people said it had been for like 18 hours. I convinced my son [and] we helped them to take the wheels to Mumbwa. As we were coming back from Mumbwa with repaired tyres, the conductor [to the bus] says ‘actually sir we forgot to tell you that we don’t have fuel.’ My son had fun, laughing the whole journey… At the back it (the bus) was written ‘chitanta baluya’ bus services, meaning a bus that can only be boarded by unwise people. As I see this budget, I can only equate it to that kind of a bus –- one thing will go wrong after the other. When you repair the wheels, something else will go wrong. Honourable Minister [of Finance,] this budget is chitanta baluya,” said Belemu, sending part of the House into laughter.
And debating the same subject, Nkombo stressed that for as long as the appropriation bill would be dealt with a “business as usual” approach, Mwanakatwe should “count myself out of this particular approval process and I want to be record.”
“I know for a fact, something that is of no contest is that the Minister of Finance of PF [government] has failed lamentably to release Constituency Development Fund. There will be some people who have received but this is for the reason…. For the reason I have said to the Minister of Finance, you count me out! I’m not going to be part and parcel of people who are going to just follow the flamboyant language that you (Mwanakatwe) used on that day to try and convince us that this particular budget speech is of substance. Then you fail to bring the Yellow Book for me to look at [and] be satisfied that under the schedule for roads, the K6 billion that you put for roads Mazabuka Central Constituency is also allocated for that 18 kilometres that you’ve been failing to construct in the last four years. Give me the reason to support this budget [because] I see none,” Nkombo explained.
“One day you will be indicted against this Constitution which compels you to develop this country in an equitable fashion. The whole Zambia knows that an MP has no money to build even one kilometre of a road [and] that’s why it’s embedded in this Constitution that resources of the country are going to be disbursed. There is nothing the PF are offering in this budget!”
And Nkombo recalled that there was a time when crude oil on the international market was US$20 per barrel.
“Today it’s at about $70. [But] why wasn’t the price of petroleum products ever affordable in this country? Somebody must answer that question. Why did you give Zambians false hope that you are bringing diesel [from Saudi Arabia] that is cheap [but] which was only gonna last for five days? Then you think that you are hero and mighty! There is no government I know that plans for six days! You go on a mountain top and say we have solved your problem, we went to Saudi Arabia to buy diesel,” said Nkombo. “We never even saw that K5 per litre in those six days! Who is fooling who? The Zambian people have now discovered that you are not their friends – you did them ka red naka black which is like casino. Your time of reckoning is very near and to the Zambians I say, hold on; it will soon come to pass.”