MMD president Nevers Mumba says the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s position on Zambia’s actual external debt stock has vindicated him and proved finance minister Felix Mutati a liar.
Mumba told News Diggers! in an interview that the IMF’s remarks that Zambia’s external debt was likely to put the country at high risk of debt distress if borrowing was not slowed down, proved that Mutati was not honest when he told Parliament that the country’s debt stood at $7.2 billion earlier this year.
“I am very grateful that the IMF has echoed the concerns that we raised a couple of months ago. I did mention to the nation that Mr Mutati had lied to Parliament and to the nation about the true debt stock of our country. I hope that Mr Mutati did receive the numbers which we got from his officers at the Ministry of Finance that brought the actual debt to about $23 billion. I asked him to prove us wrong by giving us the tentative figure, and show us how they arrived at the $7.2 billion, he never replied to that,” Mumba observed.
“A month later, I wrote another letter reminding him (Mutati) that it was my right as a citizen to receive a response from the minister of finance, but again he disregarded that letter. He has not replied. So we are very encouraged and vindicated by the IMF when they raised the same concerns that we have raised earlier on about the country’s correct debt. This [IMF] reports proves Mutati a liar”
And Mumba said it was wrong for Mutati to use the pettiness of politics and escape questions from the MMD on pretext that he was the rightful president of the former ruling party.
“I think that this minister (Mutati) must learn that that Ministry is a public office and it has nothing to do with emotional concerns of him fakely being called president of MMD. It cannot be that because I am also president of MMD then he is not going to answer the letters I write to him, I think it has nothing to do with that petty belief. So we demand that he tells us the truth about Zambia’s debt position,” Mumba said.
“So what we are going to do now is that we are going to go back to his office when he comes back from Washington DC and sit with him with our numbers so that he can help us understand what our debt stock is. Then we are also going to write to the IMF again, asking them not to honour their programme with Zambia at the moment until the debt stock is revealed. Until the governance record is improved.
He urged Zambians to mount pressure on the government to reveal the true debt position.
“We have to put pressure on this government. All they are going to say like Mr Chikwanda (former finance minister) has rightly put it, is that ‘the country’s economy is under stress’. This means that the numbers of debt are not accurate and the budget that was just given is a distorted budget. There is no proof in terms of the numbers given in that budget,” said Mumba.
“I want to warn this government that they can do all the politics they want They can stop us from having our freedoms and liberties of meeting as opposition political parties. They can keep imprisoning us for challenging their corruption. But I want to assure them that numbers don’t lie. they can manipulate all of us but numbers don’t lie. Soon the truth will come out to embarrass and their legacy will be totally distorted.”