FORMER Special Assistant to the President for Policy Implementation and Monitoring Jack Kalala says it is common knowledge that most of the debt the country has accumulated was contracted under former finance minister Alexander Chikwanda’s reign.

And Kalala has wondered why Chikwanda dismissed an open letter written to President Edgar Lungu as nonsensical when he had not read it.

Earlier this week, Chikwanda said the open letter to the President on the state of Zambia’s economy written by six former government officials was nonsensical, adding that he was not responsible for Zambia’s problems because he did his best in his time.

But in a statement, Thursday, Kalala said Chikwanda used to insult people who dared to advise the government to slow down on borrowing.

“Mr. Alexander Chikwanda served as Minister of Finance from 2011 to the time when Mr. Felix Mutati replaced him in 2016. It is an open knowledge that most of the debts, if not all, that Zambia has accumulated under the PF Administration were contracted under his superintendence as Minister of Finance. All the key economic indicators started their spiral degradation during his time. The debt blew up during his time and he used to insult people who dared to advise the government to slow down on borrowing. If it is not him who else is responsible for the unprecedented huge debt, with very little to show, in the history of the country? Let him tell us in detail since he is an excellent writer,” Kalala stated.

“It would be collective irresponsibility and recklessness to let the country continue in spiral degradation while all of us remain silent and indifferent in the hope that things will change for the better on their own or through prayers. It would be foolish naivety to reason that the situation would resolve itself without taking any corrective measures. How can anyone hope to get to a desired destination by remaining still in one place without making any movement? In addition if one has to reach an intended destination one has to move in the right direction. It would be a mark of insanity to get on a Livingstone bound bus when the intended destination is Solwezi. There cannot be any achievement if no action is taken. You can’t expect to harvest without ploughing the land and sowing the right seeds. This is not rocket science but simple facts that require common sense to understand.”

Kalala stated that it was only sensible to publicly rebuke the government because they had been adamant.

“In his criticism of the Group of six former officials, he claimed that the former officials should have made direct behind the scene contact rather than an open letter. He forgets that advice had consistently and timely been rendered to the PF Government for more than seven years, which they chose to ignore and labeled whoever dared to give them advice as being bitter and jealous. In the light of this it is only sensible to publicly rebuke them and tell them to act in the manner that will be beneficial to the country. It should be appreciated that the country is bigger than any one individual or group of individuals,” Kalala stated.

He said Chikwanda’s reponse to the letter was dismaying.

“Mr. Alexander Chikwanda’s insulting response to the letter by the six former government officials is unbecoming and dismaying to say the least. To make matters worse, he confessed that he had not even read the letter. Really how could one sensibly and objectively comment on a letter or document whose content he did not know? It makes no sense and only demonstrates lack of respect for the opinion of others. It is also a mark of impunity and lack of moral and civil decency. The wise and sensible thing he could have done was to ask for the letter and read it to acquaint himself with its content before commenting on it. What he did was not only unprofessional but also demeaning to his status. Although he has not been one of the most illustrious and highly performing leaders in Zambia, he is still held in very high esteem because of his seemingly honorable and respectable conduct,” Kalala stated.

“For me I am aware that, as a youth he made a valuable contribution to the liberation of this country, like his friend Vernon Johnson Mwaanga and many others, most of whom remain unsung heroes like my elder brother Jacob Kalala. We cannot take this credit from them.For him to continue inspiring respect and wisdom, he should learn to remain calm and reasonable instead of having an emotional reaction to everything that is said about him. He should always sit back and consider things with logic and restraint. It is therefore dismaying that Mr. Chikwanda, a Former Minister of Finance, should disparage and ridicule, the wise and timely advice given by fellow eminent citizens who have the concern of the country at heart. His temperamental reaction, without even reading the letter to acquaint him with its content and substance, was not only unbecoming but also lacked level-headedness for a person of his status,”

Kalala said Zambia’s economy was in a dire situation because of excessive borrowing.

“It is an undisputable fact that the economy in Zambia is in dire situation but not necessarily due to external factors or the recent COVID-19 as some people and Mr. Chikwanda would like us to believe. The main causes are self-inflicted such as excessive borrowing, wrong priorities and abuse of the borrowed moneys that rendered the economy moribund. The economy has been in decay for a long time without anything tangible being done to revive it. The call was made in good faith and out of genuine concern for urgent and decisive action to be taken by those in power to resuscitate the economy for the good of the nation. It would be unreasonable for any sensible person and perilous for the nation to ignore the timely and sound advice given by these well meaning and well-informed citizens,” stated Kalala.

“It would be a lack of logic to expect people who are the principal stakeholders to remain silent and indifferent at a time of a national crisis as the one Zambia is currently experiencing. Those holding and those who have held offices before should strictly be held responsible and accountable for their actions. No one in public office should be above accountability. Any one who does not want to be scrutinized or to be held accountable should not occupy public office. It is self-deceiving and an affront to public interest for some people to believe that they hold the freedom to do anything in public office and to consider that if anyone dares to express concern or suggest anything is an infamy.”