PF vice-president Given Lubinda says it is “extremely childish” for the Finance Minister to argue that the debt contracted by his was an economic blunder because it boosted economic growth.

And Lunte PF member of parliament Mutotwe Kafwaya has wondered which debt his party hid.

On Tuesday, Finance and National Planning Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane told Parliament that the total government external debt as at end of June 2021, stood at US $14.48 billion.

He said the growth of external debt from less than $2 billion in 2011 to its current levels reflects one of the worst economic blunders during the last ten years and had significantly contributed to the suffering seen today.

But commenting on Dr Musokotwane’s remarks, Lubinda said it was immature of him to issue such remarks.

“It is extremely childish for him to be saying this is an economic blunder as though he doesn’t see where the money went. It used to take the people of Chelstone one hour to drive to work in town because of the poor road networks, now it takes them 20 minutes because of the investment we made using that money. When Musokotwane left as Minister of Finance, there were only two public universities, today there are eight. When he left. Load shedding was the order of the day, today he is even boasting about increasing investment in mining without recognising the fact that the energy that is going to be used in the mine is as a result of the investment that was made by the PF government and Edgar Chagwa Lungu. It is a mark of total insincerity and immaturity for anyone to say that the borrowing was an economic blunder because the borrowing boosted economic growth,” Lubinda said.

“Without all these roads, without the electricity generation, without the water reticulation system, what economic growth would you be talking about? I am driving on the Chingola-Solwezi Road which was in a very deplorable state at the end of Musokotwane’s stay as Minister of Finance, it used to take eight hours to drive from Chingola to Solwezi, it now takes one and half hours. Musokotwane went to receive his President, President Bally at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport which when Musokotwane left as minister, it was like a ghost airport. Today, it is one of the most marvelous airports in the world.”

Lubinda said Dr Musokotwane should tell Zambians what he would do at the ministry rather than pointing to what the PF did.

“Today, Musokotwane is failing to pay farmers for their bumper harvest which they produced because of the good economic policies of Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu. Today, even in the constituency where he is a member of parliament, there are mini-hospital which at the time he left as Minister of Finance, people did not have a clinic. All this is a result of investment of the money that we borrowed. Where is it talking about plunder? I would like to suggest to Musokotwane to grow up and be a man, not a boy. And tell the Zambians people what he is going to do and not keep pointing at what we did. Let him tell the Zambian people what he will do,” he said.

Lubinda said he was disturbed that Dr Musokotwane thought he could create jobs through mining.

“Today farmers’ maize is going to waste, it is being soaked unfortunately because the Zambian people, the 2.8 million people, were misled by false promises and now they are starting to realise that the promises cannot be met. So let Musokotwane concentrate on telling us what he will do. I am actually very disturbed that Musokotwane thinks that he can create jobs through mining. Now here comes this tired economist who comes to tell Zambian people that he is going to create jobs through mining. We told the Zambian people that for us, the mining sector will not take priority or center stage because it has proven not to be an effective employer,” he said.

Lubinda said the UPND government had a bunch of liars because they accused the PF of borrowing US$20 billion.

“You are yet to hear more inconsistencies from the UPND government. This is what I refer to as untruthful people for national destruction. They always strive to tell half-truth. And Musokotwane’s economics is telling untruths. They told us that we borrowed US$20 billion, we said show us where that money is, now they are saying US$14 billion. Did we ever deny that we had US$12.9 external debt and US$1.5 billion internal debt? Now it has come to pass, who is the liar? They told the Zambian people that they inherited empty coffers. It just shows you that these are a bunch of liars. They never tell the truth,” said Lubinda.

In a separate interview, Kafwaya said UPND was trying to paint PF black.

“UPND when it was in opposition, they were claiming that debt was being hidden. But the minister came out with the exact number which Bwalya Ng’andu already brought to us. So which debt was being hidden? In opposition, they were lying, the same way they have continued lying in power. They are masters of inconsistencies, we recently heard that PF created some secret accounts. So what is the aim of all that? It was to paint PF black. You cannot be one misleading the nation when you are in power. If what honourable Musokotwane brought is exactly what honourable Ngandu brought, where is the hiding?” asked Kafwaya.