REPUBLICAN President Hakainde Hichilema has dared the opposition, especially the previous regime of the Patriotic Front (PF) to offer alternatives if they have any to the new dawn government that has embarked on a robust and ambitious economic recovery trajectory, reports *Francis Lungu* .
President Hichilema outlined an array of assortment of social, economical and transformation programmes his new dawn government has initiated since assuming office in August 2021.
The Head of State said the United Party for National Development (UPND) government has embarked on a journey to transform people’s lives from both social and economic front.
Speaking during a press briefing at State House in Lusaka on May 18, 2023 President Hichilema said the increase in packages such as the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and social cash transfers for the aged and the differently abled, are meant to ease people’s suffering at community level.
“This year 2023 and going forward we will see [increased] resources to citizens through CEEC (Citizens’ Economic and Empowerment Commission), CDF, Social Cash Transfer, Pensions (20 percent partial pension withdrawal from NAPSA),” Mr Hichilema said.
The President who referred to 2023 as the “Zangena season”, said the initiatives are not by accident but through planning and restructuring of the economy.
As much as he indicated that his new dawn government welcomes constructive criticism, the President has challenged the opposition political groupings to offer alternatives to his viable and realistic policies.
According to the President, the reforms being implemented by his government are anchored on economic growth through debt restructuring.
He said debt restructuring is the pillar for both social and economic developmental paths as resources unlocked from debt management will filter through for economic growth.
To ensure a successful debt restructuring programme, Mr Hichilema has since met French President Emmanuel Macron who is the co-chair with China of the Global Debt Resolution Framework.
Mr Hichilema who is yet to travel to China to engage on debt restructuring, said “let us take politics out of this debt restructuring process…we have to unlock this python [debt] from our necks, ribs and legs.”
From the time the UPND formed government, Mr Hichilema said a number of good policies and practical measures have been put in place which most Zambians would not want reversed.
“The opposition should provide alternative viable policies to the new dawn government [and] not insults and lies, [for instance] what is your alternative to free education?” he asked.
“Tell the university students that you want to come back and remove their meal allowances, tell citizens that you want CDF to go back to were it was, tell citizens that the 20 percent NAPSA will be withdrawn, tell citizens that social cash transfer will be reduced, tell citizens and marketeers that cadres, commanders will come back [in markets and bus stations]. We respect all positive criticism but offer alternatives to these viable policies we have put in place,” he explained.
Mr Hichilema who started briefing the press by giving Zambia’s economic history through a graph presentation, said the past ideas especially between 2011 and 2021 damaged the economy.
He however vowed that with his team of ministers and other leaders, the UPND government is resolved to bringing back the economy to a level of growth for the good of every citizen.
Since taking over office, the new dawn government has increased the annual CDF allocation twice, first to K25.7million from the K1.6million, and now it’s up to K28.3million for each of the 156 constituencies.
In terms of social cash transfer, the UPND has increased to between K300 and K800 from the past low amounts under the PF.
As of December 2021, the social cash transfer programme had reached about 973, 323 beneficiary households.
This translated into 5, 061, 280 Zambians in all 116 districts.
In 2022, the UPND increased the number of beneficiary households to over 1, 024,000 households by 31st December.