Saturday, December 13, 2008

Zukas asks Rupiah to ‘pull his socks’

Zukas asks Rupiah to ‘pull his socks’
Written by Lambwe Kachali
Saturday, December 13, 2008 3:45:52 AM

VETERAN politician and freedom fighter Simon Zukas has asked President Rupiah Banda to “pull his socks” and give Zambia's position on the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, saying remaining silent will not solve anything. And Zukas said the removal of Ng'andu Magande as finance minister has contributed to the continuous depreciation of the kwacha against major convertible currencies.

Meanwhile, Zukas has said conducting peaceful demonstrations over high mealie-meal prices was not the solution to the problem although he agrees that the Patriotic Front (PF) has the right to demonstrate.

In an interview, Zukas wondered what President Banda went to do in Nigeria when he was aware of the humanitarian disaster being faced by neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Zukas said President Banda's silence on important issues such as the Zimbabwe situation was unacceptable, especially that he claimed to continue with late president Levy Mwanawasa's legacy.

He observed that President Banda would fail to continue with late president Mwanawasa's legacy if he cannot contribute towards finding a lasting solution to Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.

“I don't know what he [President Banda] went to do in Nigeria. I don't know the relevance of that trip to Nigeria. I think the problem is here next door and he is got to play an active role. We can't ignore the situation in Zimbabwe. Our late president took a good stance to help Zimbabwe get out of its problems through SADC. This process has got to continue. President Rupiah Banda, who likes to claim that he wants to continue with the legacy of the late president Mwanawasa, he must be forthright about it. He [late president Mwanawasa] represented us. Out of all countries, the most affected by Zimbabwe will be Zambia. Angola is too far away, South Africa, though has a common border it has a big economy. But the effect on Zambia is much more. Disorder, chaos in Zimbabwe will mean having an effect on us,” Zukas observed. “So we have a greater responsibility and president Banda must continue with the legacy of our late president.”

He advised President Banda to change his silent attitude.

“Maybe he has been consolidating but he is got to change his tune. He can't by pass it; he can avoid dealing with it. Yes, there are senior people politically but his [voice] makes a difference. Zambia has a say in SADC and since the death of the late president who made a big mark, the present one has got to continue with it. He should help and get a solution because it can't happen by itself. [Gordon] Brown [British Prime Minister] has made statements, [George] Bush [US President] has been making statements but its neighbours have got to make themselves out. [Robert] Mugabe [Zimbabwean President] has gone too far,” he observed.

And Zukas observed that until investors were convinced of the new finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane's financial policies, the kwacha would continue to depreciate.

Zukas said most investors had confidence in Magande's policies hence the appreciation and stabilisation of the kwacha during his time as Minister of Finance.

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