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We’re dealing with a right, focused President – Liato

By Chambwa Moonga

I’M very confident that we are dealing with a right President, says Austin Liato.

He says President Hakainde Hichilema is focused and he is determined to fulfill his campaign promises.

Liato also says the 2022 national budget has correctly answered most of President Hichilema’s campaign pledges.

Early last month, Liato, a former Kaoma Central MMD member of parliament and an ex-labour minister, told The Mast that President Hichilema could not be said to have failed to deliver when the socio-economic destruction he is trying to restore was done in a 10-year period of the PF regime.

Liato’s remarks followed claims by some senior PF officials, fresh from a debilitating loss of the Republican presidency with a million votes, that ‘President Hichilema has failed to fulfill his pre-campaign pledges’.

On Friday, Minister of Finance and National Planning Situmbeko Musokotwane presented a 2022 national budget of K173 billion that would see the government recruiting over 41,000 personnel (teachers and health workers).

Dr Musokotwane also announced that Constituency Development Fund (CDF) would be increased from the current K1.6 million to K25.7 million.

On Sunday, Liato called The Mast to react to the 2022 national budget.

He reiterated that President Hichilema and his government could not be subjected to unforgiving criticism, in a matter of months, about delivering on campaign promises.

“Those who were singing songs, in less than two months, that he has failed to deliver on [free] education; I want to go on what has come out in the budget now. It is clear that President HH has answered those questions, through this budget,” Liato said. “He (President Hichilema) said ‘I’m going to deliver to the Zambian people free education.’ That has been achieved! Were those campaign promises fake? My answer is a no. He has delivered on that.”

He indicated that the 2022 budget has exonerated President Hichilema on the promise of bringing about decentralisation.

“He promised that we are going to decentralise so that public money is not only at the centre (in Lusaka), but should go to the people. If you look at this budget, the movement of money from K1.6 million for CDF to K25.7 million means that money has been into the constituencies – closer to the people,” Liato said. “This is exactly in line with what he campaigned about. This is one clear example of him honouring campaign promises. Did he (during campaigns) talk about creating employment? He talked about creating employment! And if you look at what the budget is saying, in a very unprecedented move, the Minister of Finance announced that 30,000 teachers are being recruited.”

He pointed out that what was more interesting, with the intention of employing 30,000 teachers, is that Dr Musokotwane said “as the government, we have already found money for it.”

“He then goes to the health sector and says we are going to recruit 11,200 workers. These are direct jobs which will be created in the formal sector,” Liato noted. “There is something beyond that. There are a lot of jobs in the informal sector which are going to be birthed, just because of a conducive environment to do business.”

Liato is impressed that in a long time, “we have a budget now that is conducive for business.”

He noted that what that meant is that there would be many other private establishments which would create jobs for people.

“So, has he (President Hichilema) delivered on the issue of creating jobs? Definitely yes – not only in the formal sector but also in the informal sector,” he said. “For me, this budget is not an empty one. It’s a budget which is a fulfillment of most of the campaign commitments he made in agriculture, health, education, employment creation. So, we have to accept that good things are coming our way.”

He underscored that he has not seen a productive budget in more than 10 years like the one for next year.

“This is a budget which is focusing on improving the welfare of people,” Liato said.

He believes that offering of highly subsided education in public schools by President Hichilema’s government, is evidence that the Head of State appreciates the free education he received.

“This is exactly what he used to say [that he got an education because of the free education policy of Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s government],” Liato said.

He is, however: “surprised that some people want to be so negative” about President Hichilema’s governance.

“There are those who have just sworn to criticise a sitting President, even when there is nothing to criticise about. When I said give him time to show what he can do, this is exactly what I meant,” Liato said. “I’m very confident that we are dealing with a right President. He is focused and he is determined to fulfill his campaign promises. He also has a very competent and experienced Minister of Finance. I have reasons to believe that that team can deliver very well.”

He emphasised that the UPND government ought to be given time to now implement budgetary pronouncements.

“Let us be supportive so that we see how budgetary implementation can change lives of people in our country, in the next financial year,” said Liato.

Source: The Mast


Published by MyWritings

A Writer, A Diplomat in Waiting, Climate Change Advocate and a Football Administrator

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