Reverse nonsensical increase of minimum wage, Kabimba tells Simukoko

Labour Minister Joyce Simukoko must reverse this nonsense of increased minimum wages before it causes massive job losses among domestic workers whom she won’t employ, says former justice minister Wynter Kabimba.

And Kabimba, who is now Rainbow Party general secretary, says the Patriotic Front doesn’t think when making national decisions.

The opposition leader also added that the PF government has continued amending the Constitution just to keep itself in power, which is not right.

Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s Hot Seat programme, Thursday, Kabimba agreed with the Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE), who have rejected the new minimum wage, describing the increment as too high, and that it has the potential to send people out of employment.

He stressed that Simukoko would not achieve whatever she intended to achieve by trying to become a populist like late president Sata, warning that she would not get away with it.

“That is the consequent effect! That will be the result, people will lose jobs! So, what the Zambia Federation of Employers are doing is that, they are trying to protect the welfare and the lives of the poor maids, okay? That between getting K500, which they are getting now, or the K700 that they are getting now, and getting zero, they are saying that, ‘it is better they retain the K500 or the K700.’ The life in this country is just unbearable for everybody…why haven’t they reduced the price of commodities? Why do they allow Shoprite to continue charging high prices for food commodities? Why is it that the income of a number of people is not rising? Why is it that, the mining companies that are making money in this country are not being taxed to the levels that they should be taxed? So, whom are you punishing? You are punishing the citizens during a period when the economy of this country is a runaway economy. Whether we like it or not, PF has failed to manage this economy, it doesn’t matter,” Kabimba said.

“My advice to the Labour Minister is: reverse this nonsense! That’s my piece of advice to her. This is ridiculous. You won’t achieve what you wanted to achieve; you are being populist like Michael Sata was, but you won’t get away with it because you think Michael Sata got away with it, not at this time. So, a lot of maids will be laid off and the Minister of Labour won’t employ them anyway.”

Asked if he though the government officials who came up with the policy didn’t think before doing so, Kabimba said: They don’t think when making decisions, that is not even a question you must ask. They don’t think at all before coming up with policies.”

And Kabimba observed that the PF had continued amending the Constitution just to keep itself in power, which was not right.

“The danger of not creating consensus is just one thing, that again you are having a constitutional making process, which is driven by those that are in power to preserve their power for their own self-interest and self-preservation. That is what it means, and that is what has been wrong with our constitutional-making process in the past. When Dr Kaunda was told that the people do not want a one-party state, he decided to legislate for the one-party state. So, he went against the general consensus of the country, what did we see? The one-party state brought us a lot of problems, it had its own advantages, but it also brought about a lot of problems on account of lack of consensus. So, there is nothing that excludes citizens from broad participation that can hold, and this is a very simple lesson of governance,” Kabimba said.

“I hope that the guys in the Patriotic Front realise that, and the sooner they do, the better for the country. But if they think that they are going to be making ultimatums as if you are the airport when the plane is about to take off, it won’t go well. You ought to ask yourself a question, ‘you are in power for who?’ That question has been posed to you by the people so you are just holding that power in trust, it’s not your power and if you are conscious of that, then invariably, you will be saying to yourself, ‘let me go back to the people that have reposed this power in me and find out what they say.’ But what is saddening now is to see how we are being given deadlines: ‘if you [don’t] do this by such a day, we are proceeding’ let them proceed.”

He noted that the constitutional amendment process would keep going on as long as government did not build a national consensus and consulted citizens.

“We shall not succeed in arriving at a constitution that will stand a test of time for as long as we do not build national consensus. If this process is going to be driven by the monologue of instructions and directives and views from the Minister of Justice to citizens, it will just not work. Can’t we learn lessons from the past? I have always said from the time when I was in PF and Minister and some people did not agree with me at that time, but I am sure now they realise I was right; I have said build consensus and then you shall have a constitution… Look, we have gone beyond the era where government has to dictate to citizens, and the sooner the Patriotic Front and the Ministry of Justice realise that, the better for them. There is no room now where government sits on Mount Olympus and start dictating to citizens below the cliff, it just doesn’t happen. President Trump has tried it in America, but he has just not succeeded; everybody has tried it somewhere else, but they have not just succeeded. So, there must be transparency in the manner in which you are taking these decisions, two, there must be broad participation by citizens,” Kabimba stressed.

“You don’t sit in your office, swinging and giving instructions and say, ‘I want submissions by such and such a date’, this is not a wedding of your daughter, sir! This is a country that you dealing with and you can’t run government through arrogance! You must respect the citizens because we all belong to this country and we must participate in the affairs of this country, whether unreasonably or not. So, this constitutional-making process will not succeed. They can proceed with it, the Minister of Justice can proceed with it, but I can tell you that, it will not halt. He will come back again after some time and start asking for submissions.”

Kabimba said the IMF bailout package was not the solution to the country’s economic crisis because it was also just another debt, which would have to be repaid.

“Zambians must exploit the natural resources of this country themselves and you will see that the situation will change. On the US $1.3 billion IMF package, well, IMF is just another form of debt trap. In fact, you will be lucky if they give it to Zambia because they have said they will not deal with Zambia unless, and until Zambia can prove how it is going to manage its external debt, which is frightening, which is flying through the roof! So, if it ever does come, it’s just another extra debt, that’s not free money. We ought to realise, as a country that, there is no free money in this world anymore. You can use all sorts of acronyms ‘development aid, assistance, chakuti chakuti (what what)’, you can use all that, but the bottom line is that, there is no free money. Whatever amount of money you get from anybody, you have to pay it back. Be it the World Bank, be it the IMF, be it China, America, you have to pay back that money. So, if you are going to pay back that money, you must have a scheme of generating revenue and generating an income for you to pay back that money. It will be unfair for us to pass on the debt of this country to the future generation,” said Kabimba.

         

Mirriam Chabala

About Mirriam Chabala

Mirriam Chabala is a Zambian journalist who covers current affairs and writes in-depth feature articles on social issues.
Email: mirriam [at] diggers [dot] news

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