|CHILUBA PREDICTS SOLID VICTORY FOR MMD.
Updated: 24 December 2001
by By Hugh McCullum and Kondwani Chirambo in NDOLO, Zambia
After performing one of his last official acts, President Frederick Chiluba left his home constituency here today predicting that his Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) would win the presidential and parliamentary elections just three days away.
Looking tired but confident, Chiluba told an informal press scrum at this Copperbelt city's airport port that he was leaving his successor " a firm foundation on which to build the future of Zambia."
"We are winning, the Copperbelt is stabilizing, the party is coming back and we have been praying all along. I am confident God will give is the victory."
After 10 years in office, the president will soon step down after the 2.6 million registered voters pass judgment on his two terms in office. His chosen successor to lead the MMD, Levy Mwanawasa, will take over power if he succeeds in defeating 10 other candidates.
When asked about Zambia's current food shortages, especially the staple mealie meal, Chiluba defended his free market policies and said his administration had intervened at the right time.
"That is the key, to know when to intervene and when not to intervene in the market. When it comes to basic foods we have intervened and the food prices and supplies are now at the right level."
However, he admitted that the food issue "was full of political intrigue when opposition politicians and unscrupulous businessmen want to use it to destabilize the economy." Chiuluba denied that the government was exporting maize to Zimbabwe when the country was in short supply.
"But obviously some people are trying to do it illegally and if they are caught will be prosecuted but the government is not selling maize and will not while its people are hungry."
He said his government had pushed democracy and free markets from its inception in 1991. "We have led by example, knowing when to intervene and when to let the market lead the economy."
Chiluba had come to his home area to open a new 66 km highway at nearby Luanshya and then after a brief stop in Ndolo returned to Lusaka where he will hold a large rally on Wednesday.
When asked about the recent speeches by former president Kenneth Kaunda, criticizing the corruption and destruction of Zambia economy, Chiluba said "just ignorfe him. He is an old man and does not understand modern free market economy. (SARDC)
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