To say that the Patriotic Front (PF) government is burying its head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich would be a gross understatement and an insult to the humble large bird. The correct position is that the PF has buried its head, body and legs completely in a large pile of sand!
We say this because how else can one explain the complete and utter failure of the PF government to behave according to the reality that is apparent to millions of Zambians? On Sunday 27th September 2015, Ministry of Finance Public Relations officer Chileshe Kandeta said in Lusaka that the recent credit rating downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service should be “ignored” because “the grading is unsolicited and against best practice”.
One would be tempted to laugh at this feeble childish attempt to deflect the truth, except that this is no laughing matter. The yield on the recent $1.25 billion Eurobond debt that the PF obtained has now gone up to 11.4% from 9.4% at time of issue. In simple terms, this means that when it is time to pay the loan in about 12 years time, we are looking at a total accrued payment of more than $4.5 billion!
It appears to us that the PF are masters of subterfuge and hiding in the sand. Our president Dr Nevers Sekwila Mumba recently challenged them on their lack of action to deal with the rapid Kwacha depreciation but they simply ignored the concerns, the same way they are ignoring Moody’s rating, an agency that has been doing credit ratings for decades. In the midst of the current crisis, they are holding cabinet meetings to discuss less relevant things like the Independence celebrations or building of prisons.
The PF has been advised time and time again against their now legendary reckless spending which is usually accompanied by equally reckless borrowing from the international financial markets. But in their current modus operandi, they have continued spending like there is no tomorrow and indebting future generations for decades to come.
This is criminal to say the least and is very reminiscent of the Greek economic meltdown which we may be facing not too long from now. It is the highest level of irresponsibility for current generations to “eat” now at the expense of our children and grandchildren who shall be saddled with this debt for a long time.
All the debt sustainability figures that PF may use to justify their senseless borrowing are only good for the rubbish bin because two big mines have closed down (Baluba and Mopani) and another is considering the same move (Lumwana). Total job losses are already in the thousands.
When the dust settles and we add the mining contractors, we are talking about at least 10,000 families affected which translates to 60,000 Zambians. All projected revenues by PF are therefore now completely worthless. We might as well consult a sangoma or roll a dice.
The PF will never absolve themselves of blame, no matter how much they blame global externalities such as the dropping Copper price, reduced demand for raw materials from China or strengthening of the Dollar against all major currencies worldwide. They were elected by Zambians to solve such problems and not make silly excuses.
When we were faced with much lower Copper prices in 2000 and a bankrupt treasury, we acted decisively by privatizing the mines and giving them good incentives to continue their mining operations in Zambia. Regardless of what the naysayers might say about the alleged corruption in the deals, the mistakes made during the process or the final selling price, the fact is that nearly all economic indicators such as per capita income, infant mortality rate, economic growth rate, life expectancy, etc., improved a few years afterwards and remained on a positive trajectory until after the PF took over in 2011.
We faced the worst global financial crisis in almost a century between 2007 and 2009 and yet we worked hard to cushion Zambians from the effects. The Zambian economy grew at an average of 6% in the midst of the crisis. We never wasted time making excuses every day the way the PF is doing.
In just 4 short years, the PF has managed to turn a growing lower middle income country into a total mess with no relief in sight. The economy is on its knees, the budget deficit keeps ballooning and the PF top brass keep accumulating wealth at an unbelievable rate.
PF people who were driving Toyota Corollas now suddenly drive Range Rovers and own properties across the globe because of their dirty political connections which give them corrupt contracts. They have no remorse and no conscience. They eat with both hands and both feet while the nation cries and wallows in abject poverty.
To borrow the words of Jesus, how long must we put up with this perverse generation of corrupt political leaders? How long shall the long-suffering Zambians put up with the corrupt incompetent PF government? How long before Zambians finally say “Enough is enough!” and throw this weight off their shoulders?
Take heart Zambians, for the end of PF in 2016 is fast approaching.