THE Patriots for Economic Progress says President Edgar Lungu’s address to the National Assembly was merely cherry picking.
PeP president Sean Tembo says the address only picked a few positive developments that the country had recorded.
He said the President failed to address the many negative developments.
“As Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), we have completed our review of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) that was presented to the nation through the National Assembly by President Edgar Lungu on Friday 11th September 2020. This SONA clearly fell far short of our expectations as President Lungu was merely cherry-picking the few positive developments that this country has recorded while failing to acknowledge and address the many negative developments. Our view is that a proper state of the nation address must be objective and candid and should not sound like a campaign speech at a political rally,” Tembo said. “As Patriots for Economic Progress, we noted that President Lungu dismally failed to offer any sound explanations as to why his government is failing to allocate adequate resources to the fight against COVID-19, despite the huge sums of money that has been received from both local and foreign donors. It is unacceptable that in this time and age, there should be a two-week backlog in obtaining COVID-19 test results from government health facilities, on account of lack of test kits and lack of adequate testing centres.”
Tembo said the expectations were that the President would give guidance and hope to the nation.
“Our expectation was that through the SONA, President Lungu would give guidance and hope to the nation on what his government is doing to ensure a stable and adequate supply of COVID-19 test kits as well as to establish more test centres so as to allow our citizens to be adequately tested whenever they exhibit signs and symptoms of COVID-19,” he said. “It is a well-known fact that as a result of inadequate test kits and inadequate testing centres, the number of people dying from COVID-19 in their homes has significantly gone up as evidenced by the escalating number of BIDs (brought in dead) at various health facilities across the country. Why should Zambians be dying in such a manner as if they do not have a government in office?”
Tembo said President Lungu dismally failed to give any extra economic turnaround plan.
“It is beyond debate that our country’s economy has been on a downward spiral for several years now but this situation has recently been exacerbated by poor economic policies, reduced productive capacity due to load-shedding, the undue debt service burden as well as the downturn in the global economy that has been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our expectations were that President Lungu and his government would craft an economic turnaround plan which he would share with the nation during SONA. We were therefore disappointed to realise that neither President Lungu nor his government have any economic turnaround plan for this country. All that the President had to offer to Zambians were hollow promises and rhetoric,” he said. “We further noted during the state of the nation address that President Lungu’s plans of seeking to uplift the economically vulnerable in our society centre only on an increase in charitable programmes such as the social cash transfer. Our view is that this nation’s focus for seeking to uplift the vulnerable in society should instead centre on economic empowerment schemes and not charitable schemes. For a country that is struggling such as ours, it is not sustainable to have as many as two million citizens on social welfare. Only citizens that are too old to be productive or that are incapacitated should be on social welfare. The rest of the vulnerable citizens must be economically empowered by the State through schemes such as small loans. This will not only bring about increased productivity for the nation but will also allow for more citizens to be assisted through such revolving economic empowerment schemes. Additionally, the scope of any economic empowerment scheme must be regulated by the law and must be subject to an audit by the Office of Auditor General. A haphazard empowerment scheme such as the so-called Presidential Empowerment Fund is subject to abuse as it is partisan in nature and only designed to benefit those that support the ruling Patriotic Front political party, to the exclusion of all other citizens, despite the fact that the taxpayers’ money being used to fund such a scheme actually comes from all citizens of Zambia. Such segregation on the basis of partisan affiliation should never be tolerated in this country.”
Tembo charged that President Lungu lacks the empathy and moral rectitude necessary in a president to treat all citizens equally and fairly.
He said President Lungu appeared to be so preoccupied with advancing his narrow partisan political interests that the only group of Zambians who matter to him were those that support and advance his political interests.
“He appears to be more interested in being PF president than being Republican President. Mr Lungu only utilises the financial and power privileges of being Republican President to pursue his passion of being PF president. He does not appear to have any interest in discharging the duties and obligations of a Republican President, which include treating all citizens fairly and equitably regardless of their partisan political affiliation. It is only fair that the Zambian people must consider retiring President Lungu in the national interest in 2021 so that he can have enough time at his disposal to devote to being PF president,” said Tembo. “Indeed, Zambia has lost half a decade procrastinating on whether Mr Lungu will live up to his responsibilities of serving the citizenry in a diligent and competent manner, but to no avail. The only question now remaining is; should this country waste another half decade gambling on Mr Lungu’s clearly failed leadership?”
In his speech, President Lungu claimed that his administration had delivered on the mandate it was given by the people in 2016.
“As a government, we were given the mandate to reduce poverty and create prosperity for our people. We have delivered on that mandate and continue to deliver. We have delivered on infrastructure. We have delivered on social protection. We have delivered in education and health, to mention but a few. And we will continue to deliver,” said President Lungu. “We are determined to turn the economy around. We will do so by the dedication, resilience and innovation of this government together with our people. We will build our economy by hard work and prudent use of our resources. All of us must put our shoulders to the wheel […] We are more than ready to forge ahead and meet our challenges head on. We promised the Zambian people a better Zambia and, today, Zambia is better than we found it. We will continue to change the face of our country. We will continue to deliver on our promises for a better Zambia. With dedication and hard work, we will get there. With God on our side, all things are possible.”