FDD Spokesperson Antonio Mwanza says the level of inconsistency among government officials suggests that they discuss personal issues instead of policy matters when they meet as Cabinet.
And Mwanza says it is incorrect for Finance Minister Felix Mutati to say Zambia is too poor to choose who to help us because the country has an abundance of natural resources.
Recently, Mutati said Zambia was too poor to select who could help its fiscal position when he featured on a ZNBC special programme.
“You can’t begin to say that we don’t need it, how are you going to grow the economy? You don’t need China, how are you going to grow the economy? You don’t need EU, how are you going to grow the economy? Our economy is so small, so the issue is not selecting A, B, C, D or E. It the combination of everybody for us to grow the economy, so the debate shouldn’t be aimless about selecting, how can you select when you are so poor? We are not yet there,” said Mutati.
“Until we get there the choices are limited so let’s not have this idle debate, do we need them? That’s not the debate, the debate should be how do we grow, stabilize and grow the economy? How do we create the jobs, how do we bring in investments that should be the argument?”
But in an interview, Mwanza observed that Mutati contradicted President Edgar Lungu.
“That story makes interesting reading because of two points, first of all, the Minister is contradicting his boss the President of the Republic of Zambia who dismissed the IMF and said the IMF can hang, we as a country can survive because we don’t need it. He is also contradicting his counterpart Lucky Mulusa who is in charge of national planning who says Zambia does not need IMF. So you have a Cabinet which is the highest policy making body of the State seems to be in complete disarray with regards to what is going on in the country. This minister issues a contrary statement, the other one issues a contrary statement, and this had been going on,” Mwanza observed.
“Mutati for instance said Zambia Revenue Authority failed to meet the target, later on that day, ZRA issued a statement contradicting Mutati and saying they even raised more money than what their target was. One morning you have the Minister of Infrastructure Development Mr Chitotela saying that there is no bid for a new State House, in the morning you have his counterpart who is in charge of Works and Supply saying a tender has already been secured and a contractor has been found and State House will be built. So first of all, for us it is very worrying when you have a government that completely seems to be in cohesive.”
He wondered whether Cabinet discussed policy issues when they met.
“And one wonders whether when Cabinet meets or they don’t meet. And if they meet, what is it that they discuss? Are they policy issues or they discuss personal issues? Because if they discuss policy matters, it should be very clear that they should be speaking from one place. All of them should give us one position. If they are discussing policy matters when they meet, there is no way that they can be giving us contradictory statements on key policy issues. It shows us that either they don’t meet or when they meet, they don’t discuss policy matters but personal issues,” Mwanza said.
And Mwanza said Zambia did not need donor aid but a change of leadership.
“Secondly, to say Zambia is too poor to survive without aid is a misconception of fact. Zambia is too rich actually in terms of resources. Zambia has more natural resources than Japan. It has more natural resources from Rwanda which has developed despite coming from war. It has more natural resources than Switzerland or Dubai which is a desert. The issue here is that Zambia is being mismanaged because it has got nothing to do with resources. If we were managing this country properly, we would be able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from the mining sector alone. If they put up a windfall tax and changed up the tax regime in the mine, this country would be able to raise not more than $800 million every year and there will be no need for us to go and start queuing up for aid at the IMF or a Eurobond from the Europeans,” Mwanza said.
“If this country was properly managed, we can create hundreds and thousands of jobs from the agricultural sector alone through investments in modern ways of production, in research, agro processing and we would be able to fight unemployment. If this country was properly managed, and if this government stops stealing people’s money…if you look at the Action Aid report for the 2015/2016 analysis report, it clearly stipulates that five percent of the budget was stolen by these same politicians in government who are giving each other contracts illegally, over pricing contracts and who are sub contracting even when they know they don’t have the equipment to do the work.”
He said the country was being mismanaged.
“So if we can fight the corruption in this government, we would be able to save millions of dollars which we can invest in the production sector on the economy. So it is not a question of the country being rich or being poor, it is a question of the country being mismanaged, it is a question of high levels of corruption, lack of priorities, lack of a vision, a question of wasteful expenditure, a question of lack of fiscal discipline on the part of the people we have given power. The solution here is not IMF. IMF is not giving us a loan for creation of wealth and jobs. They are giving us a loan for the purpose of balance of payments so that we are able to pay back the money which we have borrowed which purpose we can’t even say to say this $10 billion nkongole that we had this is how it has worked,” said
“The only thing the PF can show is the number of zeros they have added to the amount of debt which they found when they came into power in 2011. So as long as we have these crop of leaders who have no vision, this crop of leaders who think that leadership is about personal aggrandizement, who think that leadership is about enjoyment, then this country will continue to be poor even when it is rich.”