UPND deputy secretary general Gertrude Imenda has warned that Zambia will be dead and buried if nothing is done to salvage it from its economic crisis.
And Imenda says that Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu has been squeezed into a tight position as he has been appointed to restore what cannot be salvaged.
In an interview, Imenda, the former Luena ADD member of parliament, urged the PF delve into other economic sectors as opposed to only focusing on infrastructure development, which had been heavily debt-financed since 2011, leaving other sectors behind.
“We know that to grow the economy, you have to cover a number of sectors, when you look at GDP growth, you look at various sectors. So, really, Zambia is dying and already, the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) governor (Dr Denny Kalyalya) has mentioned that even the two per cent growth rate that is projected may not be there, it will be lower! Now, we are nose-diving into some abyss! What hope is there for Zambians, this is our concern? Zambia is dying and it’s going to be buried unless something happens. First of all, they have over-borrowed, that is a fact. Whether they want to justify that it’s because we had an ambitious agenda, therefore, plunging the country into a debt crisis, whereby, the major part of your budget goes to debt repayments and emoluments and there is no money to invest in economic sectors, which would help generate the revenue that the country would use to grow the economy. So, it all goes to debt stock because you want to invest all the money in infrastructure development. You ignore economic sectors, you don’t want to invest in agriculture, and you don’t want to invest in tourism, even mining,” Imenda said.
“Now, what is happening, because of this skewed way of investing on one sector of the economy, because of that, have you seen the latest? Standard Chartered Bank (Zambia) is closing branches! What does that tell you about the shrinking economy? What are you going to do with those workers who were working there? They are going to be sent on this trip to join the fellow youths who have been unemployed since the PF got into power in this very harsh environment. What is happening is Zambia is going to be buried because of the economic policies that this PF government is following.”
And she observed that Dr Ng’andu had been squeezed into difficult position to salvage what had already been destroyed.
“You know, it is very disheartening, but I feel sorry for the Minister of Finance (Dr Ng’andu) because you know, when somebody brings you after they have spoilt the relish, then they come and say, ‘well, see what you can do with this relish, this chibwabwa (pumpkin leaves) maybe put some groundnuts,’ but it’s already spoiled! It was not even cut properly and so on and then you have to try and massage and say, ‘okay, I will see what I can do.’ And when somebody comes to say, ‘okay, what are you cooking?’ You can’t say ‘it is spoiled,’ you have to find a defence! That’s what he is saying. I feel sorry for him because he has to say that. He says the current debt stock is a reflection of an ambitious development agenda and it is to do with infrastructure,” said Imenda, a former Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson.
“Look, when you are a planner, when you are ahead of something, let me take at the domestic-level, at the household-level, would you, when you get the little money that is there or the little resources, would you just put all the money in the chicken relish and then have no money for buying mealie meal or would you buy mealie meal and then no relish? Because you say an ambitious plan so you just put all the money in mealie meal, now people will cook nshima and then they will have no relish, that’s what he is telling us here. They put all the money, they borrowed to come and have this ‘ambitious’ infrastructure development, it is not right!”