President Edgar Lungu says his primary objective as leader of this country is to fulfil the dream and build on the legacy of PF founder Michael Sata. This has been his campaign message since 2014 when he was adopted presidential candidate. He was the chosen one for this purpose; we were made to believe.
But today, all evidence seen from the implementation of PF policies suggests otherwise. We are seeing a complete 180 degrees U-turn from where late Michael was taking this country. Betraying the legacy is what President Lungu and his current Cabinet are doing.
Just last week, we heard the Chief Government spokesperson Honourable Dora Siliya declaring that it is a Constitutional lacuna to have a clause which demands that all loan contractions must be approved by Parliament. We accept madam Siliya’s plea of ignorance on the subject because she was not there when Michael and his team sat to develop the PF manifesto, which won them the 2021 general elections. More understandably, Madam Siliya is employed to justify the bending of rules, so we treat her arguments with the deserving contempt.
But it got us worried to hear the Minister of Finance support this position, saying Parliament should not be allowed to ratify loan acquisitions because there was already an able Cabinet for that function. As Minister of Finance, Honourable Margaret Mwanakatwe is not expected to debate like a cadre without reading the policy document that she is employed to implement.
On page 36 of the PF manifesto under Fiscal Policy (loans and grants) the governing policy document clearly states as follows:
Despite the writing off of Zambia’s huge debt under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, Zambians have not seen any benefits from this programme. Instead the MMD government has continued to borrow without regard to monetary and fiscal policies.
Additionally, grants received from cooperating partners have not been directed to productive areas and activities due to rampant corruption and abuse of office by the MMD. This has led to unmitigated levels of poverty and erosion of confidence in the MMD government by the Zambian people.
In order to redress the above, the PF government shall introduce legislation to allow the National Assembly to ratify all loan agreements in order to promote transparency and accountability;
This is not the UPND’s suggestion, it is not a suggestion from the Transparency International or any of the civil society organizations. This is a directive in the PF manifesto, they promised to do this. They are the ones who put this provision in the Constitution, how can it be a lacuna? No madam minister, stop fooling the people. This is your manifesto and we expect every Cabinet minister to have it at home and in their office.
So when the Minister of Finance starts speaking to the contrary, we wonder if these people take time to read the policy document that is supposed to guide them, or they just drink alcohol and agree to get loans under the influence.
Those who worked tirelessly, day and night, to develop the PF manifesto knew that parliamentary approval on loan acquisition would enhance transparency and accountability. So in rubbishing this provision in the PF manifesto, Honourable Mwanakatwe is telling us that Michael Sata and his team were dull or couldn’t think as Cabinet, so they needed Parliament to do the job of the Executive.
Honourable Mwanakatwe and Honourable Siliya know very well that in Cabinet everyone speaks with one voice and there is no transparency while Parliament has critical divergent views. Zambians would follow through on radio, television and newspapers how much their government would like to borrow and for what purpose. The reason why Zambia’s true debt is unknown today is because of the secrecy that Cabinet attaches to loan contraction.
Michael Sata did not support excessive borrowing, or borrowing for consumption. So this provision in the Constitution for parliamentary approval on all loans is not a lacuna, it was a conscience decision by the founder PF leadership.
Even the Social Cash Transfer money that is now being embezzled and abused for campaigns; Michael saw this happen in the MMD and he promised in his manifesto that theft of social protection money would be stopped.
On page 21 of the manifesto under Social Protection, the PF condemns The MMD government for having politicized the social cash transfer and for abusing donor funds for political expediency, resulting in delays and inefficiencies in the sector. Look at what is happening in the PF today. Is this party still green or it has completely been swallowed by the MMD blue?
And by the way, President Lungu is not the only one to blame for this loss of vision. There are people who were much closer to Michael Sata, who understood the dream and even helped him implement the manifesto while he was still alive. But today they are pretending to be ignorant about this, they have gotten jobs in diplomatic service and pretending all is well. These are people who promised Michael that they would fight for his legacy; today they are flying in business class from country to country with diplomatic passports and telling the world out there at important gatherings that ‘Zambia is prospering under the new and able leader who has taken the footsteps of the PF founder’.
President Lungu never had a vision to lead this country and he was honest from the onset, so we forgive him and blame the voters. But these people who are now cheerleading the President are the ones who have heartlessly betrayed Michael. Painfully so, some of the betrayers are his own family members and trustees. They have surrendered Zambia into the hands of the wicked and have accepted to be part of a destructive regime. They can’t open their mouths to tell President Lungu that he is sailing Zambia in the wrong direction, as long as they are eating. How shameless!