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Zambia: Alliance blasts President Hichilema over claims of improved economy

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A Zambian opposition coalition, the United Kwacha Alliance (UKA), has lampooned President Hakainde Hichilema over his claims that the country’s economy was picking up following a debt restructuring deal struck with longstanding creditors.

The UKA, in a statement on Thursday, also cautioned Zambians against premature celebrations following deal, saying the government was misleading the masses.

Reacting to a recent announcement by the Hichilema-led government that it had secured a debt restructuring deal with international bond holders and the Official Creditors Committee (OCC), the Alliance Media Chairperson, Saboi Imboela, urged the citizens not to jubilate just yet.

Imboela alleged that the government was only exhibiting political desperation to show good results while hiding their bad governance.

“President Hakainde Hichilema’s government’s debt restructuring celebrations are premature, a sign of political desperation meant to show intangible results while misleading the Zambian people,” she stated in the statement.

The UKA spokesperson further challenged the government to acknowledge that the debt restructuring deal did not remove the burden of the Euro-bonds, except that they have been merely consolidated into two new ones – Bond A and Bond B in order to resume debt servicing.

“The Government is not fully disclosing its financial predicaments and weaker status for this process, as the terms of the Debt Restructuring Deal will negatively impact the Zambian economy and worsen the cost of living for the majority citizens,” Imboela said.

She went on to accuse Hichilema of deliberately choosing not to reveal to Zambians that the deal was not debt cancellation nor did it mean debt reduction in the official Euro-bond debt, and advised Zambians not to expect anything different.

Imboela noted that government did not create any ‘sinking fund’ to set aside financial savings and secure resources to prepare Zambians for this debt repayment in the last couple of years the country was not servicing the debt.

“Now that after this deal we are expected to start paying, where will we get the money given our current very weak and in-crisis financial condition? This government is not disclosing and answering this question,” she stated.

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President Hichilema pledges support for Zambian SMEs

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Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema, has pledged his government’s commitment to support the country’s small and medium scale enterprises as well as the principles of solidarity, equity and inclusivity in his administration’s development agenda.

Hichilema who made the pledge during the 2024 Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Co-operatives Indaba in Lusaka on Wednesday, said his government was committed to promoting the growth of in the country.

The President who was represented at the event by the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Elias Mubanga, stated that his administration had already embarked on the journey because of the important role MSMEs played in national development.

While delivering a speech on the theme “Harnessing the power of collaboration in fostering Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Cooperative growth for sustainable economic development”, Hichilema noted that this would be achieved by providing MSMEs and Co-operatives genuine engagement in decision-making processes and capacity-building programmes can boost their creativity.

“Inter-connection and inter-independence collaboration stand as a cornerstone of growth across all sectors of the Zambian economy particularly among MSMEs and Cooperatives.”

He added that this can also boost the resilience and entrepreneurial drive of small businesses in order to stimulate development.

“Government is focusing on MSMEs and cooperatives’ engagement, as well as strengthening policy execution to promote and facilitate advanced investments for the nation’s long-term growth.”

He further added that government was engrossed with the participation of MSMEs and Co-operatives and strengthening the implementation of policy to promote and facilitate increased remittances and investment for the nation to attain sustainable development.

Hichilema stressed that in 2023, government, through the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development launched the Revised National MSME Development Policy and its Implementation Plan (2023-2028).

“This underscored government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for MSMES to thrive,” the Head of State said.

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In Sallah message, Tinubu charges Nigerians to have faith in his reform agenda

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President Bola Tinubu has once again urged Nigerians to have faith in his “bold reforms” and the commitment to his administration’s “Renewed Hope Agenda.”

Tinubu, who gave the reassurance in his Eid-el-Fitr message to the nation on Wednesday, praised Nigerians for their resilience, sacrifice, and endurance in the face of the hardship they are going through as a result of the policies of his administration.

The President who observed his Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Dodan Barracks in Ikoyi, Lagos State, also urged Nigerians to defend the integrity of the country at all times.

In a chat with journalists after the prayers, President Tinubu said called on Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of the recently concluded Ramadan fasting.

“Today marks a significant day in Islam as Muslims worldwide commemorate the conclusion of Ramadan and the Eid-el-Fitr festivities,” he said.

“Moreover, let us perpetuate the spirit of compassion and support for one another, as demonstrated during the month of Ramadan, and extend assistance to those in need.

“The kind of resilience, sacrifice, endurance that we have, we should preserve that for the country. Be a kind and cheerful giver, love our country better than any other country – that is the only one that we have.

“And we must continue to protect the integrity of our government and leadership. The new hope is alive, well and fine and Nigerians should continue to be very hopeful.

“Without hope there is no salvation, without hope, there is no development, without hope, there is no life,” Tinubu said.

The President went further to state that the Renewed Hope Agenda would result in a better Nigeria in the shortest possible future.

“Renewed hope is very much alive, Nigerians should be hopeful,” he added.

Shortly after he assumed office on May 29, 2023, President Tinubu had assured Nigerians that his Renewed Hope Initiative would be a culmination of his government’s commitment to ensuring that Nigeria and Nigerians fulfill their potentials.

“The Renewed Hope Agenda of my administration is defined by our commitment to unleashing our country’s full economic potential, by focusing on job creation, access to capital for small and large businesses, inclusiveness, the rule of law, and the fight against hunger, poverty and corruption,” President Tinubu had declared during his inaugural speech.

But almost a year after that speech and declaration, Nigeria has been plunged into economic crisis occasioned by high cost of living, inflation, and hardship due to the policies of the government.

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