Countries and economies world over survive on debt, it’s only in Zambia where we have made it look like it’s a criminal offence to acquire debt, National Assembly Chief Whip Brian Mundubile says.

Speaking when he featured at the PF Interactive Forum in Lusaka, Sunday, Mundubile also said that PF has scored over 75 per cent in terms of performance from the time it assumed office.

Meanwhile, Patriotic Front (PF) media director Sunday Chanda says the UPND has admitted being a signatory to the African Liberal Network (ALN) which supports Gay Rights.

“Countries world over, economies, business houses all survive on debt. It’s only in Zambia that suddenly, we have made it look like it’s a criminal offence to accrue debt. If you were given an option for instance, where would you rather be? [to have] a very clean balance sheet [with] no debt and no school, no hospital, and no road? Those other governments that will come up and say that ‘we maintained reserves at X billion dollars’ why were we undeveloped? How did it help us to maintain that clean balance sheet when the mortality rate was so high all over the country? The illiteracy levels were very high. So, the issue of debt must be approached with sobriety,” Mundubile argued.

Mundubile said even members of parliament who speak the loudest about debt know very well about the fiscal space which remains when the budget is passed.

“If those that spoke about debt were saying ‘money was borrowed and wasted’ then they have an argument. But if money was borrowed and invested in things that we can see, our lives as people have improved because of that debt… When the budget is approved in parliament, all members of parliament are aware of the fiscal space that remains when monies are appropriated. If you look at every question that comes, every MP wanting a road, wanting a school and so on then you wonder to say if you didn’t want us to borrow…you are with your wife at home [and] your salary is K10, 000, then your rent is K5, 000, school fees K3, 000 and the disposable income is only K2, 000. And she brings out programmes for K6, 000, [it means that] she is constructively asking you to borrow the difference. So even for our MPs, they know the fiscal space. So, quite frankly, there was nothing wrong with the borrowing,” he said.

Mundubile however, acknowledged that repaying the debt is expensive because of the exchange rate which is dominated with foreign currencies.

“For this country to develop to the levels that we want, we needed to borrow. That borrowing was very important. And the reason why there has been a halt on the contraction of debt is because of the factors that I have outlined. In terms of the exchange rate, these are dominated in foreign currencies and when the exchange rate changes, it becomes very expensive when you are repaying these loans. So, we are saying can we manage with what we have at the moment as the new mantra put up by the President says ‘we will do more with less’. So for now, there has been a reduction in the contraction of debt so that we can have all the factors under control going forward,” Mundubile said.

He said in terms of performance, PF had scored over 75 per cent from the time it got into power.

“How do we rate our success? If you look at our scorecard and you go back to the party manifesto, we have gone over 75 per cent in terms of performance. And remember that within those circumstances, there were factors that were uncontrollable. So quite frankly, we still have an “A” and I think it’s a very good result,” he said.

And Chanda said the opposition UPND has admitted having been a signatory to the African Liberal Network which supports Gay Rights.

“There is no alternative to the Patriotic Front track record and manifesto. Anything and everything that the opposition will talk about in this country will be because they have run out of issues. The only reason why the UPND are talking about minority rights is because they belong to the Africa Liberal Network. The Africa Liberal Network, by UPND appending their signature and by membership, UPND must [turn] some of those values into what they have promised to do for the Zambian people. Minority rights is on the agenda of the UPND which are talking about Gay Rights,” said Chanda.

“We saw the UPND leader saying that ‘I don’t respond to nonsense and propaganda’ but they realised that their funder has been able to question them on this particular matter. On, Friday, we saw the leader of opposition in the House Honourable Jack Mwiimbu admitting that UPND supports Gay Rights. And they want to qualify that by saying the United Nations to which Zambia belongs is user-friendly to Gay Rights. But we want to ask Mr Jack Mwiimbu that has the UN Charter been amended to include minority rights?”