FORMER Special Assistant to the President for Policy and Project Implementation Jack Kalala has charged that giving aid or debt relief to Zambia will be like pouring water in a bottomless container as what the country needs now is regime change.

In response to Oxfam who recently called for debt relief to help the country deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and revive the stressed economy, Kalala said the challenge that the country was currently facing was a leadership crisis and not the need for debt relief.

“The underlying problem in Zambia is not COVID-19 whose existence in Zambia is questionable; not even the debt burden is the main problem in Zambia. The fundamental and critical problem in Zambia is the inept, ignorant, corrupt and ineffective leadership. In the current situation, even if five trillion dollars were pumped into Zambia without addressing the inherent problem of an ineffective and corrupt leadership, the situation would not change. It would even worsen. Giving debt relief or any aid to the PF regime to help the country would be like putting water in a bottomless container in the hope of filling it up. The water would continue to flow out without filling up the container. To get out of its wretched socio-economic situation, Zambia needs to deal with the deep-rooted crisis of poor leadership. What Zambia urgently needs is not aid or debt relief but regime change. The bad and mediocre PF leadership needs to be removed and replaced with a leadership of credible, competent and knowledgeable people,” Kalala stated.

“This is the first step that needs to be undertaken in addressing the socio-economic problems that Zambia is currently facing. Otherwise nothing meaningful would be achieved and the situation will continue worsening. In the case that debt relief is accorded to Zambia as Oxfam is suggesting, the financial resources that will accrue will just end up in the private hands of PF leaders and their surrogates as it happened with the borrowed money. Apart from stealing the money, they abused it on unnecessary by-elections, aimless presidential trips abroad and criminal activities such as gassing and sponsoring political brutality against political opponents and innocent citizens. Creditors will not be rendering help to Zambia by giving debt relief to this corrupt and wasteful regime. It would be like putting acid on a festering wound.”

He added that what the country needed were credible elections next year, failure to which, the PF regime should be made to face sanctions.

“To help Zambia, donors and creditors should insist on the holding of transparent, fair and credible elections next year. They should also prevail on the PF regime to create a conducive political environment for democracy to thrive and for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to work professionally, failure to which, they should be made to face sanctions. Free and fair elections will accord Zambians an opportunity to elect credible and able leaders,” Kalala stated.

He wondered why Zambia was still poor when it was richer than countries such as Japan, Britain, France, among others, when it came to natural resources.

“To help people, it is better at times to be unkind in order to be kind. Zambians should also be made to understand that they owe it to themselves to put in positions credible, responsible and capable people of integrity to serve the nation. Zambia is not a poor country to continue relying on aid. In terms of resources, Zambia is richer than Japan, Britain, France, Italy, Singapore and Israel. These countries are more developed and richer than Zambia, which has abundant resources. Zambia has the potential capacity to be one of the richest countries on the planet. It is a country of honey, milk and gold but extremely poor and hungry due to lack of effective leadership. This is absurd,” Kalala stated.

He further advised Oxfam to advocate for a vibrant civic movement as opposed to justifying its relevance by speaking for the government.

“Instead of speaking out for a rotten and corrupt regime, Oxfam should be advocating for a vibrant civic movement in Zambia that would government accountable and educate the general citizenry on their civic duties and responsibilities. Donors should not channel their aid to vulnerable people through government institutions but through NGOs and the Church who should in turn distribute the same to the needy. The responsibility of Government should be to develop the country and create opportunity to end poverty in the nation, not to be a conveyor belt of distribution of aid to its people from other governments,” stated Kalala.

“The Oxfam’s claim that Zambia urgently needs debt relief to help the country deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and revive the stressed economy is fallacious and lacks merit. To any critical minded person, it is perceivable that Oxfam has made the claim to justify its existence and relevance in Zambia and for purposes of sourcing additional funds for its operations. Oxfam is not an advocate for the Government of the Republic of Zambia.”