By Anthony Bwalya
It took the collective will and wisdom of the Zambian people 22 long years of hard work and sacrifice, supported by our friends in the global community, to rebuild this country after years of economic destruction which led to the fall of the UNIP regime.
It is foolish that in 2020, we are back here having the same discussion 31 years later.
Toxic, incompetent political leadership from the garbage site, courtesy of the Patriotic Front (PF) – this is what has brought us to here.
And several generations of Zambian people will pay a very heavy price in diminished public services provisions, from healthcare, education, support for agriculture and business incentives. The next 2 – 3 generations of Zambian children will be born in guaranteed poverty.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Change of government. In 2021, the PF must go. There is NO substitute for this.
The PF regime has lost credibility in the eyes of the global community. No one will actively engage with the PF regime to help us rebuild this country.
The IMF have been coming to Lusaka for 3 years running trying to get the PF to do some basic things:
– Deliver transparency on Chinese loans
– Stem wasteful public expenditure
– Stem corruption
– Deliver an economic recovery plan
And in all the 3 years, the PF regime has delivered NOTHING.
Without the IMF on board, we are dead in the water – simply that.
So, a change of government is the first thing we must do as a people in order to restore leadership confidence and get the global community back to the discussion table.
1. Isolate LEGAL from ILLEGAL debt
Zambians have NOT benefitted from the whole of $20bn. We will have to make an assessment of the legality of all debt contracted AFTER 2016. We know that close to $10bn was contracted after 2016 was NOT approved by Parliament as per constitutional requirements set out in articles 63, 114 and 207.
All illegal debt will be paid back by individuals within the PF responsible for the illegality. Refer to the Mozambican case involving $2bn of illegal government loans.
2. Restructure the LEGAL debt
Please note, that it would be difficult to deliver on these measures without the IMF on board – they are our insurance policy.
That is why we keep emphasizing a change of government as a path to restoring the confidence and faith of the global community in the Zambian project.
At the moment, Zambia is spending (or should have been spending) an aggregate of around $200m per month on interest repayments on debt. This is why we have DEFAULTED. We could not afford it.
The UPND is targeting repayments of around $50m in aggregate on all loans per month.
2. Reschedule the LEGAL debt
Our timelines for discharging our debt obligations are fast approaching, yet there is just not enough economic activity to generate the revenues needed to meet these repayment timelines. Thus, rescheduling is an obvious option for the UPND administration.
1. Deliver transparency on all LEGAL loans so that both the Zambian people and cooperating global partners can have certainty around what our true debt position is
2. Institute a moratorium on all debt contraction and focus on leveraging Bi and Multilateral partners’ support
3. Stem all wasteful public expenditure programs, such as combining the functions of certain government Ministries, realigning public expenditure priorities
4. Optimize local resource mobilization by strengthening compliance
5. Deliver tax incentives to individuals (PAYE) and SMEs for growth
6. Win the war on grand corruption
7. Revamp value addition across the economic value chain
8. Prioritize sectors of energy, agriculture, education, health and industrial development
This is the PLAN which will save our country.
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