Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu says the Patriotic Front has rendered Parliament moribund by failing to subject loan acquisition to scrutiny as provided for in the Constitution.

Debating the Report of the Budget Committee for the second Session of the Twelfth National Assembly, laid on the Table of the House on June 11, 2018 in Parliament, Tuesday, Mwiimbu observed that it had become useless to debate the budget because any advise rendered was never implemented, a situation which had led Zambia into debt distress.

“Mr Speaker, you are aware that the Constitution of Zambia has a provision where the executive has to report to Parliament pertaining to the loans they have contracted and the usage. That hasn’t been done. I don’t know whether it’s deliberate or they are not aware of the provision? I can’t comment on that. But what they have done is a disservice to the country. It’s incumbent upon them. They are the ones who brought the Constitution to this House for enactment and they must ensure that we abide by the provisions of the Constitution. I’m also aware that my colleagues on your right (PF MPs) have the propensity of ignoring the Constitution,” Mwiimbu said.

“At this point in time, I will like to refer to the provision that is supposed to regulate Parliament. According to article 218 of the Constitution of Zambia, this Parliament is supposed to have a Parliamentary Service Commission. The Parliamentary Service Commission is not just for the purposes of managing staff affairs, it is intended to provide and ensure efficient management of the institution. And enhance our oversight role on the executive. Without the Parliamentary Service Commission, our hands are tied. Our colleagues on your right Mr Speaker are taking advantage of this institution. As the result of the way they are behaving, they have made this Parliament moribund. I’m saying the Parliamentary system and the committee system in this parliament is very weak. If we were given the mandate to ensure that each committee that oversees a particular ministry is given the mandate to followup, we will not have been lamenting. We have been lamenting for so long and we have been pleading that certain measures must be taken. Some of my colleagues don’t even want to debate, they think that they are wasting time. They debate the same issues year in and out and similar recommendations are been made. We are pleading to you honourable Minister of Finance, make a change. Ensure that the changes that are being recommended by your committee are implemented for the good of all of us.”

He lamented that the PF had over borrowed despite numerous calls against doing so.

“The other issue that has arisen out of this report is the issue of debt contraction and the debt the nation has acquired. I do recall that a number of us have been advising government, the former minister of finance honourable [Situmbeko] Musokotwane, has been advising government on the danger of over borrowing. But we have now noted that they have agreed with us that they have over borrowed and they have no capacity to pay back. That is why they want to renegotiate the payments of these loans. We must be prudent in the way we borrow,” Mwiimbu said.

“What has led to the problem we are finding ourselves in, is that most of the debts that have been incurred, have been incurred outside the authority of the Minister of Finance. A number of government ministers have been contracting debts without the Minister of Finance knowing. Those debts come to the knowledge of the Minister of Finance after those debts have been contracted. All what I’m saying is that when we make a statement and advise, they must analyse the advice and learn from us because we are speaking on behalf of everybody. This debt has affected the operations of government. As the situation is, the financial situation in government is in distress because of the failure on the part of government to be prudent.”

He further challenged the Ministry of Finance to release the CDF by Friday if the country had money.

“There’s no money. If there money is there, Mr Speaker, we urge the Minister of Finance to release this money by Friday if it’s available. Because we are looking forward to service out constituencies. The constituents have been asking that when are you getting the CDF, this is the money that we use to provide services in our constituencies and that’s why we need it. But the money is not there. If it’s there release it,” said Mwiimbu.

But Chama South PF member of parliament Davison Mung’andu said there was nothing wrong with Zambia borrowing because there was no country in the world which had not borrowed.

“The honourable member for Roan [Chishimba Kambwili] in his debate, highlighted that borrowing is not the right thing. From my own understanding, the way he was coming out. If I’m to challenge this House, just to take an inventory of credit accumulation, I would discover that all of us have borrowed. What I’m trying to say is that there is no country in the world that has not borrowed, including our country Zambia,” Mung’andu said.

Mung’andu, however, thanked President Edgar Lungu for introducing austerity measures in an effort to address the country’s debt crisis.

“I must thank his Excellency on the same topic. He has given a directive that those credit lines that have not been disbursed must be cancelled and those projects that are less than 80 percent, financing must be halted. This will give us a clear picture in terms of credit status of our country. Because some of the figures that are standing on our books are monies that have not been disbursed. Some of them are guarantees. These are things that are not well explained to our people out there,” said Mung’andu.