Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) president Nevers Mumba says the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will not change its mind on Zambia’s request for a bailout package because the country has continued accruing more debt.
And Dr Mumba says he will continue pressing the government over the country’s correct debt position until it comes out in the open and admits that the country is in trouble due to its failure to disclose the exact debt that the country owes both locally and externally.
Dr Mumba was speaking to News Diggers in an interview where he advised the PF government to stop hiding the country’s exact debt figures.
“We are in bad shape, nothing about this country’s debt has changed. What has happened between July last year when I blew the whistle and today is that in between there were all denials by Felix Mutati. He never responded to any of my letters, up to this day he has never responded until he left that office. I went to the Bank of Zambia Governor and I asked him ‘Sir, tell us what is the debt of Zambia because we have our figures straight from Ministry of Finance that’s where we got this information’ and he said he could not because it’s not his role, it’s the minister who should do that…now we are were we are. The international community has joined in to say that we are so far indebted that we are in trouble of equaling the debt with our GDP. Once you get there, you become insolvent as a country because your debt now equals your GDP. Now my argument from the political side is not to embarrass or humiliate PF, my argument is that once the country crushes, all of us crush. Why are they hiding the numbers and in whose interest? This is not politics, it’s economics and the PF should not try to do politics with this aspect of the Zambian life,” Dr Mumba said.
“Mozambique tried this and they are in trouble today, they hid some debts and once it was discovered…they have collapsed because the international community has withdrawn and now they are on their own swimming in deep waters. Congo Brazzaville did the same thing…here in Zambia, we just got Indians to give us $286 million for the roads in Lusaka, in which column have they put that debt? And when you get money from an Indian, he’s gonna get back whether you are ready or not. So these are the issues that we have.”
Dr Mumba advised the newly-appointed Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe to stop politicising the country’s debt, as did her predecessor Felix Mutati.
Meanwhile, Dr Mumba charged that the IMF would obviously stick to their answer about Zambia’s request for a bailout package, saying the PF government has not given the IMF any hope of how they would be capable of refunding the loan.
“I would like to once again ask Mwanakatwe to stop the politics over this matter. We are slowly closing in to our GDP which means that you are worth what you owe. If you owe K20 and then you only make K20, how much are you worthy? Zero. So who would like to come and invest in a zero country? This is where we are going. And we are saying ba Mwanakatwe, don’t do what Mutati did. If you have read Africa Confidential, it’s agreeing with us. So the next thing I want to do is to press this government to come out in the open and say ‘listen, we messed up. We are in trouble’. So if the IMF comes, I don’t expect them to change their stance because nothing much has changed. If anything, we are accruing more debt since the last time they denied us the bailout. So the IMF gave us their answer then and I do not think it will be any different if they are coming. We need to sit down and resolve it,” said Dr Mumba.