IT IS disheartening for the President to go and enjoy himself on holiday while the rest of the country is fighting for survival, says MMD leader Nevers Mumba.
And Mumba is wondering why President Edgar Lungu is leaving the comfort of State House.
President Lungu is on holiday at Nyamvu Game Ranch and Safaris in chieftainess Mwape’s area of Nyimba district where he does not want to be disturbed, according to Eastern Province permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo.
“He is actually around but he is taking a break, a working one. He is working on a couple of issues for the nation while he is resting, so even us don’t want to go and disturb him, we are just waiting. If we say where he is, people will start going there; people like you the newspaper men. He is in the province but he is at the most unlikely place,” said Kasolo on Friday.
But in an interview yesterday, Mumba said President Lungu had chosen a wrong time to go on holiday.
“It is a very dangerous option at a time of war for a general to go and rest. I think the perception that will be created is that maybe the general does not want to win the war, so I would advise that at least for now, let him concentrate on resolving these economic issues, because going on holiday right now sends a very wrong impression,” Mumba said.
“He would not collapse or die if he worked a little harder to create an impression that he feels for the Zambian people. I know that he has some very strong reasons and the doctors had recommended that he takes rest, but otherwise it is sending a wrong message if he goes on holiday now.”
He said Zambians will not delight in the news that their President is on holiday while they are struggling to survive.
“The President has the right to go on holiday, but he has to come in when the economy needs to be restructured. People are losing jobs on the Copperbelt, despite his assurances that the mines would not lay off any more workers. So he is creating an impression that he is enjoying himself when the rest of the country is sweating to survive,” Mumba said.
He said State House was very comfortable, with everything the Head of State could demand.
“He is going to send a very negative signal across the country with this news that he is on holiday. First of all, some people are going to think that he really doesn’t see the pain that we are going through as a people. So our advice is for him to stay home. State House is comfortable enough for the President to enjoy himself. He has everything he needs there. If he wants a palm tree to be grown there so that he feels like he is in Hawaii, that can be done,” Mumba said.
He said the PF government was depleting the country’s fiscal reserves because of its bad priorities.
“The MMD was in similar problems economically at one point, but because of our dedication and suffering with the people, MMD fought back and improved the economy from negative national reserves to $2.7 billion when we left office in 2011. That did not come because we loved holidays; that came because MMD leaders decided to identify themselves with the people and created an impression that they wanted to work with the people,” said Mumba.
“So if he (President Lungu) continues like this, I think he is going to distance himself from the people. People will be alienated from him and the Patriotic Front, that probably he came to just have fun. He has asked us to advise him if we have got ideas and this is one of the ideas that we have; to advise him that because of the state of the economy and the pain that the Zambians are going through, it will be irregular and insensitive for him to be on holiday now.”