Green Party president Peter Sinkamba says the Patriotic Front will win the 2021 elections because Zambians have embraced the ‘sebanya wikute’ culture where citizens are willing to embarrass themselves for personal benefit.
And Sinkamba says Zambia has the worst managed economy among sub-Saharan countries, listing the debt distress as a testimony of that.
In an interview with News Diggers! Sinkamba said regardless of how much damage the PF would do to the economy, they would still win the elections in 2021 because the poverty situation in Zambia has made citizens desperate to make ends-meet.
“There is a mismatch between economic performance and voting patterns because of poverty. We think that we have a problem of poverty. You know, poverty is a very, very huge problem and that is why the whole globe has pushed their efforts to try and eradicate it. ‘Insala nga yacilamo, ilaleta umusebanyo’ (too much hunger brings shame) the approach is ‘sebana wikute’ (the embarrassment doesn’t matter as long as you get something out of it). You know, you can afford to do all sorts of things, including embarrassing themselves, but provided their stomach is full. It’s not just politicians, it’s a lot of Zambians doing this. So, the PF will win 2021 because people are hungry! So, they will win, provided that at the time of elections, they give them the chitenge material, some food items and the like. You know, we have reduced elections to that kind of threshold; where you provide chitenge, you provide shake-shake, you provide T-shirts and you sing and dance, then you are the best,” Sinkamba lamented.
“Unfortunately, this is the way we have been reduced all because of poverty in the country. And unless we are able to sort out this poverty thing, we are going to have a lot of mediocrity in the way we are going to manage our elections where voting is not going to be issue-based. Voting is based on ‘sebanya wikute’ and that kind of benchmark is very dangerous. And this will work to their (PF) advantage in 2021; they will win because of these dynamics that play in the economy. The constitutional right of any political party to express itself in the way it thinks, in the way it thinks it is performing and what it thinks it will achieve in the coming elections. I think that is the trend everywhere else in the world. But whether or not they will be able to get 50 per cent or 100 per cent, that is a reserve of the voters. I think the voters, themselves, will do an evaluation when the right time comes to determine [whether] or not the PF have performed; whether they deserve it and whether or not they deserve another term. So, what I am trying to say is that, the ultimate judges are the voters. And for the voters it’s what they will do when they are in the ballots. That is what will matter.”
Meanwhile, Sinkamba said Zambia had the worst managed economy among sub-Saharan countries.
“If you look at the regional management of economies, if you look at how our colleagues in Rwanda are performing, you will find that their total GDP for 2018 is projected to be far better that of Zambia. When you look at, particularly running of the economy, we are the worst in the region and it’s because of this government. So, whether or not the voters will appreciate that message is a different story. I think we have over-emphasized this point that at the time our colleagues took over government in 2011, they found the external debt portfolio, which was at US $1.9 billion. And also, the domestic debt was less than $2 billion. So, combined, domestic and external, debt was less than US $3 billion; today, we are talking about a combined debt of about US $13 billion. You heard what the Minister of Finance said last week that external debt has risen to about $9.3 billion, whilst the domestic debt has also risen to about US $5 billion,” said Sinkamba.
“So, really, that’s an indication that our colleagues have failed to manage the debt portfolio because now we are in a situation where, the debt sustainability threshold has surpassed and hence the decision by [the] Minister of Finance to cut off the travels, cut off the any further borrowing arrangements; cut off certain loans and all those measures that they were announcing because we are now in a debt stress mode, which situation was not the case when the PF took over government. And also when you look at the GDP portfolio, you find that the GDP had also most risen to $28 billion by 2014. Meaning, we lost in terms of transaction, in terms of our net revenue. That, to me, is an indication that there is a problem in the management of our economy. Because, really, shrinking the GDP instead of having a sustainability threshold in terms of our debts, it has grown exponentially which is painful. So, all those are indicators that our economy has been mismanaged by our colleagues.”