The PF arrogance of numbers in parliament that saw the approval of the motion to allow them to recklessly borrow has the risk of consigning the country to another debt burden like the one we inherited from UNIP government after the economy crumbled leading to regime change in 1991, opposition UPND President Hakainde Hichilema has said.
In an interview following the motion that saw PF defeat the opposition MPs and allowed them to increase the borrowing in this year’s budget, Mr. Hichilema said future generations should now brace for tough times and harsh economic measures ahead, similar to the ones the country went through when MMD took over power in 1991.
“We all know what the country went through that time of the IMF and World Bank Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) that eventually made the country being declared a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) when our debts were only cancelled after concerted efforts and lobbying spearheaded by among other people the late Cardinal Merdado Mazombwe,” he said.
The opposition leader said it was shocking that the country keeps going through the same economic mess, and wondered whether it will now be possible to get any debt relief or forgiveness in future.
“You know what, someone can forgive you once for walking in the same path and fall in the same ditch. But it will be very foolish to expect forgiveness when you keep walking in the same path and fall in the same ditch. This is the situation we are facing under the poor management of the economy under the PF leadership that has again resorted to reckless borrowing,” he said.
The opposition leader said what was even more unforgivable and painful is that the same people like Alexander Chikwanda that advised Kenneth Kaunda to run the economy through borrowing are currently in the same positions doing the same things.
“As politicians, we are always being condemned and accused of being the same. But my argument has always been that the tragedy the country faces is recycling the same politicians like Michael Sata, Alexander Chikwanda, Daniel Munkombwe who have the same mentality and expect a different result,” he said.
Mr. Hichilema reminded the PF leadership that telling lies was a sin to God and His people because the PF won elections on the platform of introducing windfall taxes, reduced government borrowing, and reduced cabinet but they were now doing the exact opposite.
“We know people, especially the youths danced ‘donchi kubeba’ the whole night, some even danced naked when PF won in 2011. But with the level of reckless borrowing and economic mismanagement under the PF, we should now be prepared to cry naked during the day when debt servicing and poverty hits the country,” he said.
He warned that very soon, Zambians will have to swallow their pride because Mr. Sata and his uncle Mr. Chikwanda have literally auctioned the country because of the failure to live within our means.
“How can we be proud of mother Zambian when PF politicians are busy selling this country through borrowing in order to finance their corrupt deals and huge cabinet. We have always advised that as a nation, we should learn to live within our means and equitably share income from minerals and other resources instead of losing the nation,” he said.
Mr. Hichilema said he has consistently advised the PF regime to be bold enough and introduce windfall taxes for mines, reduce tax concessions given to foreign investors, reduce the size of cabinet and even put a wage freeze on cabinet ministers and MPs instead of punishing the poor Zambian workers and citizens.
“The problem is we are dealing with greedy PF leaders in Zambia. In countries where leaders are there to serve the people like Ghana and even next door in Malawi, the politicians, including the presidents have cut their salaries as a cost saving measure. The Malawian president, Joyce Banda, has even gone further by selling the presidential jet. But Mr. Sata and his large cabinet are increasing their salaries sometimes twice in one year, yet impose a wage freeze on others,” he said.
Mr. Hichilema said PF were cheating people that money was going into roads and other infrastructure when they were the biggest beneficieries of the borrowed money through corrupt tenders and deals.
“Look at the Roads Development Agency (RDA) for example, that is being run from State House by one board chairman who has no board members. Can you say there is accountability and transparency in this sector that handles the biggest chunk of the national budget? It is a national scandal for one person to be supervising billions of tax-payers money alone,” he said