Nevers is right and Mwamba is just playing bad politics

The narrative that Patriotic Front Chairperson for Information and Publicity Emmanuel Mwamba is trying so hard to peddle in his response to comments made by Movement for Multiparty Democracy President Nevers Mumba, is the very reason why sober-minded Zambians find it hard to believe the Patriotic Front (PF) is capable of rebranding.

Rebranding requires not the engaging in musical chairs, shifting around the same faces that cost the PF its stay in power. It requires objective soul searching and acceptance on new realities.

In this case, it requires Mwamba and his PF to simply accept the indisputable fact that, as Dr Mumba said, they left the Zambian economy in a mess and, regardless of how glibly he reels off some statistics of what he claims are the achievements of his party, the majority of Zambians concluded that the PF did not belong in government.

Let us look at some of Ambassador Mwamba’s claims. The first one is that the PF left a resilient economy that even with the twin challenges of the debt burden and pandemic, the economy rebounded to 4.5% growth in 2021 from 2.8% in 2020.

On the face of it, this might seem like a sensible argument. But it is not. With the decline in the mining sector because of the PF policies, and scandalous decisions over the key assets of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Mopani Copper Mines (MCM), and shrinking activity in nearly every other sector, it is difficult to justify the PF’s claims of economic growth recorded in its final year.

The only area where there may have been discernible increased activity was in construction of infrastructure. The reason for this is simple. This is the area that the PF marked out for their massive pilferage because they facilitate huge inflows, mostly debt from China, much of which, though recorded as infrastructure development, ended up in the pockets of party and government leaders, and cadres for works they did not even execute.

Ambassador Mwamba should actually shy away from saying anything positive for the PF regarding debt. To say that the economy was resilient even in the face of the debt burden is not just delusional, but an insult to the intelligence of ordinary Zambians.

How can a government that defaulted on debt be portrayed as managing an economy that was resilient even with the challenge of the debt burden? Such a claim is actually moronic. What should be common sense is that even if someone decided to be charitable to the PF, whatever positive economic results they may claim to have achieved, measured against the mountain of debt they chalked up, these were wiped out. This is what Dr Mumba meant when he said the PF left a damaged economy.

Now let us look at Mwamba’s other claims that the PF left the economy in a better state. He says the cost of living was lower than it is today. What he has not told Zambians is that the cost of living was kept low by artificial means.

For example the so called bumper harvests of maize, which facilitated the lower price of maize were only possible because of massive Farmer Input support Programme (FISP) subsidies, under which PF aligned fertiliser supply companies were paid millions of dollars for phantom supplies. What people seemed to have been gaining from low mealie meal prices pales in comparison with what PF and its supplier cronies filched from State coffers.

Ambassador Mwamba’s comparison of prices of mealie meal of K150 for 25 kilogramme bag when the PF was in government with the K230 to K290 today is deceptively simplistic.

What President Hakainde Hichilema’s government has done is to introduce market-oriented policies to spur increased maize, and generally agricultural, production through prices that bring profitability to primary producers, including small scale farmers. This is the path of progress, not populism.

It is the same thing with the price of fuel that Mwamba has quoted, as being K17 per litre of petrol when PF was in power, and now pegged at K29.98 per litre. The story behind that supposedly low fuel price is well known. The PF government was subsidising the price with money it did not have, hence leaving a debt for fuel importation of more than $500 million, which the UPND government has had to deal with.

Therefore, claiming low fuel price under the PF as an achievement is simply being too clever by half, and further proof that Zambian voters made the right choice in booting that group out of government.

Ambassador Mwamba would do well to let sleeping dogs lie when it comes to the state in which his party left electricity generation projects. Here too, the PF had defaulted and the Chinese financiers had stopped the flow of funds. Uncontrollable debt had caught up with the PF.

It is the UPND government that reorganised and progressed the Kafue Gorge Lower and Itezhi-tezhi power generation projects to completion. The same with the construction of international airports in Lusaka and Ndola. For the PF, these were merely opportunities to inflate costs and line up the pockets of leaders and party cadres.

Mwamba claims the PF did a debt sustainability analysis, resulting in halting of infrastructure projects that were at 80% completion and below. He is merely being facetious. By this time everyone who had been pouring money into these projects had realised most of the money was going into the pockets of PF leaders, and pulled the plug on financing arrangements. Ceasing the projects was not a decision borne out of wisdom. It was simply the PF eating humble pie.

Amb Mwamba, in his criticism of Dr Mumba’s observations, has continued the practice of characterising the UPND government’s fulfilment of economic management performance criteria and cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as over-reliance on the Bretton Woods institution for solutions.

This is just political mischief. The truth is that Zambia has outperformed many other debt afflicted countries in prescribed outcomes under the framework for dealing with debt distress which were agreed internationally, and the IMF just happens to be part of this programme. But the solutions being implemented are homegrown.

As for the KCM and MCP problems that the PF left in their wake, the UPND government has simply brought order and trust to the relationship between Zambia and foreign investors.

Dr Mumba is right in his overall perspective, especially when he says the economic problems the UPND government inherited from the PF are of such magnitude that the minimum period it will take to have them resolved is 10 years.

Dr Mumba is not trying to buy time for President Hichilema, who has already shown Zambians his commitment, resolve and focus in pursuing a turnaround for the country’s economy. Dr Mumba is simply being realistic.

Ambassador Mwamba is just playing bad politics.

©️ Zambia Weekly Report


  1. Dr Mumba was spot on. Especially when he advised UPND not to shy away in emphasizing & telling the people who messed up the economy. It’s PF. UPND please use every opportunity to remind the people who caused this. Otherwise PF minions like mwamba will start issuing moronic statements that PF left a vibrant economy.

  2. If I were UPND, I would first work and fix everything that I promised voters I would fix.

    Only then would I remind people about PF, though voters do not need reminding because they are not stupid.

    Doing it the other way round is of no interest to voters. In fact, it is an insult to them.

  3. Mwamba has been a political demagog from the time Chiluba died. Using the position as a spring board to secure a job and relevance. Let the statutes follow him and learn what the bible says about bad use of the tongue.


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