Former vice-president Lupando Mwape says the PF’s mandate will be over in 2016 and that only an ignorant person who doesn’t know the power of elections will vote for the ruling party next year.
Commenting on the continued fall of the economy, Mwape, the former Republican vice-president under Levy Mwanawasa, said poverty levels were rising badly and that the PF would face a fierce battle to be re-elected in the forthcoming general election. “Unless people are not adequately educated on what the power of elections means to them. But if indeed they are given that education and understand what it means to put a government in place, it will be a see-saw battle for them. It will be a very very difficult battle for the government of the day to win the next election,” he said.
Mwape, who campaigned for the PF in the January presidential election, said the pace at which the ruling party was running down the economy was worrying. “Given the way things are going, it is worrisome. The performance is worrisome. We can’t have it any other way. Everything must have a beginning and it must have an end. I am yet to talk to them so that I see where their problem is. If we don’t talk, then we will leave it up to the electorate to make their own choice at the end of the day,” he said. Mwape said the increased load-shedding and water rationing measures would worsen the already difficult living conditions among citizens.
“This will worsen the poverty levels in this country. Look at it from a realistic point of view, how many people are getting above K3,000 per month? Very few. Those who do not work for the public service in commercial trading centres and in houses are getting way below K3,000. Now if you were buying a bag of charcoal for K40 and suddenly you are told it is now K70 or even K100, but your salary is not rising proportionally, do you expect yourself to be getting any better?” he asked. “So it shows you that the poverty levels are expanding badly. And these are the majority and we have to feel for them. And there are some of those who are not working, this is impacting on the poor living standards of our people. We need to be considerate when we are making certain decisions. We need to apply ourselves selflessly and work very hard to help minimise the impact of low standards of living in our country.” Asked if he regretted supporting President Lungu’s candidature in January, Mwape said his interest was to allow the PF to finish five years so that the party could be judged properly. “We did not put a wrong man. It was a stopgap measure. We wanted a continuation in the leadership so that people are given enough time to analyse the performance of that party. That party’s performance is coming to an end next year and you are able to see whether the five years you gave them as a mandate has brought a helpful solution or not and make a decision based on that,” he said. Meanwhile, Mwape said proper planning could have prevented the energy crisis that the country was facing. “The load-shedding situation is supposed to be predictable by today.
We are supposed to know when is it starting and why it is starting, and what are the steps we should be taking to redress the situation,” he said. “But it would appear we don’t seem to be having any focus of when this load-shedding will come to an end, so that’s really very unfortunate. As a result, even abnormal life has now become normal in Zambia. You can’t predict, you can’t plan. You don’t know when you will have power and when you will not have power or when you will eat and even as I am talking to you right now, I have had no power since six o’clock and God knows when the power will be restored.” Mwape said Zambia had enough resources for thermal and solar energy. “There is no reason why we should be talking of energy sources all the time when there are so many sources of energy in Zambia. Surely, why can’t we attract investors to come and tap into these energy sources so that we can have sufficient electricity for all Zambians? We have the hydropower in abundance. God knows why we should be having shortages for over 20 years. We have the solar energy, which is always in abundance, we have coal, so we can talk of thermal energy, we have uranium and we haven’t taken advantage of it,” said Mwape.