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President HH’s Statement on Inherited Empty Treasury is a Lie – Andyford Banda

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ANDYFORD BANDA

Opposition People’s Alliance for Change (APC) president Andyford Banda, has charged that President Hakainde Hichilema’s statement that his government has inherited an empty treasury is a lie.

Reacting to statements by the president that his government found the treasury empty, Mr Banda said that this was a mere excuse not to fulfil some of the United Party for National Development (UPND) campaign promises such as Free Education and Youth Employment.

The president told the BBC that he had inherited an “empty” treasury, while “horrifying” amounts of money had been stolen.

“I don’t want to pre-empt things but what we are picking [up] is horrifying,” the president said. “You’ll feel nobody can do a thing like that but it’s being done. People have done it. They are still trying to do things now.”

Yesterday Bank of Zambia (BoZ) data showed that Zambia’s international gross reserves increased to US $2.9 billion by the end of August, 2021, representing 5.4 months of import cover, from US $1.2 billion three months prior, the highest level since 2015.

The Kwacha appreciated by nearly 30 percent against major currency convertibles between July 1 and August 31, this year, mainly boosted by significant inflows from non-resident investors in government bonds and improved market sentiments.

Meanwhile, the Opposition leader of the Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) Sean Tembo has wondered why the president is unnecessarily alarming the world by making wild claims that he has not fully determined.

In a long post on his Facebook page, Mr Tembo said that yesterday he debunked the empty treasury claim by the President and according to his estimate, on the day of his inauguration on 24th August 2021, there was approximately US$3 billion in the coffers.

“And for sure, during their quarterly media briefing this week, the Bank of Zambia indicated that our gross foreign reserves were standing at US$2.9 billion, which is not too far from the US$3 billion that l had estimated earlier. Suffice to mention that the $2.9 billion reserves that we have at the moment is largely due to the SDR allocation that we received of US$1.3 billion. But this is the largest amount of reserves that this country has had in the past 13 years or so.

“Even in 2011 when the PF took over, the MMD Government only left about US$2.4 billion. So the question then becomes; if the US$2.9 billion reserves is the highest that we have had in 13 years, why is President Hichilema insisting and telling the world that he has inherited “empty coffers”, he asked.

Mr Tembo said that while it is too early to stand up and criticise the new Government, it was also too early for them to start messing up the country.