By Kombe Mataka

LAUGHTER characterised part of Tuesday’s parliament session when Malole Constituency PF member of parliament Robert Kalimi said infrastructure minister Charles Milupi is presidential material because of the honest manner in which he responded to questions.

Kalimi, who rose to ask what criteria was being used to assess the viability of roads during questions for oral answers, said it was possible for Milupi to be president one day.

“I want to assure my honest minister that you’re a minister because you came as a UPND Alliance and anything is possible. You can be a presidential candidate in 2026,” he said amidst laughter.

And Kabushi PF member of parliament Bowman Lusambo, who wanted to know on why Public-Private-Partnership initiatives were not being employed in building township roads, said he would support Milupi’s candidature for president in 2026.

“I was following my minister who is my son,” joked Lusambo. “I am happy that he will try to stand on the UPND ticket. I will support him because he is very honest.”

In his response, Milupi, who could not hold his laughter said: “My young brother, Hon member for Malole, no matter how much you try you will not divide us. In the Alliance, we have a good candidate. Myself and Hon Mutati (Felix), yes we are presidents of parities but we are in a solid Alliance that first time was able to defeat you.”

Instead he advised the opposition not to field a candidate in 2026 because UPND had the best candidate.

“With regards to 2026, we are doing everything possible to support him [Hakainde Hichilema] so that come 2026, the plans that we have for this country are actualised. And therefore, for him it will be easy sailing,” Milupi said. “So there is no room for either that side or this side to have another candidate. In fact, if they want to be good citizens we expect that they will not even have a candidate.”

And Milupi told the House that there was so much damage that was done to the economy through road contracts.

“This new dawn administration has made it very clear that we have three focal points. If you want to know what we are doing just listen to the President. You know our Lord Jesus Christ when he came he reduced the commandments to two. The President has reduced our focal points to three elements, one, reuniting the country, number two, bringing law and order in the country, and number three rebuilding the economy with our resources,” he said.

And responding to a question by Chama South PF member of parliament Davison Mung’andu on what was the alternative recovery plan from IMF, Milupi said without debt restructuring and necessary negotiations with creditors “we would be expected to pay the Euro bond debt in cash”.

“He must be reminded that in 2022, this year, is the 10th year after the first Euro bond of $750 million. The original plan was when that Euro bond was obtained that 10 years later we would pay back $750 million at once. One day. This is this year,” explained Milupi. “Next year we were to pay to $1 billion and 2024, the third Euro bond…that is amount of damage that has happened to this country. There is need therefore to engage creditors. You have got to have trust of the creditors. They will be able to trust you if you are able to reach the IMF deal so that we can reduce on the amount of money that is supposed to be paid every year.”


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