ALLIANCE for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi says it is shameful for the government to seek more loans when the economy is in a dire state.

Recently, Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji wrote the Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Li Jie asking him to expedite the disbursement of a loan to facilitate the speedy implementation of the FTJ Chiluba University in Mansa.

In his letter to the Chinese Embassy dated, April 21, 2020, Malanji said the FTJ project was very important and that the institution, once completed could conduct some research which could help in the fight against COVID-19.

But commenting on the development in an interview, Milupi said the government was trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to raise money for 2021 campaigns.

“You see, these people running the country have absolutely no clue about what is happening to the economy of this country. If you look at the statements from Minister of Finance (Dr Bwalya Ng’andu), one of the issues are these loans that have not yet been disbursed need to be stopped. Zambia is over borrowed. That is how blinded we are. For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to write to the Chinese Ambassador that we need more money so that they can do this and that, it’s so that people can see that they are working. It means it hasn’t sunk in their heads that the economy is in a dire situation. No person in his right state of mind can do that. This is a trouble of putting people who have no clue on what the economy is about. All they care about is to say ‘we have done this, vote for us’ what this does to the country, they are not interested. Even the Chinese now will not want to release the money because they know the dire state in which our economy is. It is shameful,” Milupi said.

“If this people work as a Cabinet, I expect them to discuss the economy and know where we are. There are four senior ministers in Cabinet that is; Minister of Finance, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs, he is one of the senior ministers we expect them to understand the economy and quite clearly, he doesn’t understand it. And we have a dysfunctional Cabinet, because there is no direction, this one is doing that and the other one is doing something else,”

Milupi said one of the reasons why the country did not have an IMF bailout package was because ministers in government were acquiring loans without the Finance Minister’s knowledge.

“One of the difficulties is that ministers are acquiring loans which the Minister of Finance is not aware of and that is why we have difficulties even getting the International Monetary Fund loan. In terms of borrowing, we are above the limit. Quite clearly, Zambia cannot pay. We are surviving on these toll bridges and very soon, you will hear them increasing how much vehicles pay on these toll bridges, that is how desperate they are going to be. Even when the oil prices have dropped all over the world, these people are maintaining the status quo. Have you noticed that despite the 15 hours of load shedding you are paying a lot more than you were paying when you had electricity 24 hours a day? Where is the money going? They are using any excuse and that is why people are saying they are using this COVID-19 to raise money for their campaigns. To them, they see COVID-19 as God sent to promote themselves that is why they are saying ‘Lungu will do this’,” said Milupi.