ONE thing that is clear about the millions of kwacha being thrown around by Patriotic Front cadres is that it is not fake money. This is legitimate money, the same money that PF ministers and members of parliament are dishing out to the people. So the question is, where is this money coming from? Who is giving these cadres millions of kwacha to play with in this manner?

Zambia is currently the fifth hungriest country in the world; a country that is facing an unprecedented food crisis with more than 2.4 million people affected and at least 430,000 people experiencing severe food insecurity; described as just one level below famine. This is a country where families in rural settlements have been abandoned by the central government and are surviving on wild fruits, roots and leaves. Families are surviving by reducing the number of meals they eat a day, leading to high levels of malnutrition. But the party in power is playing with millions of kwacha. What kind of leadership is this?

The Patriotic Front should be ashamed for what they are doing to this country. Last week they issued a statement that party members must stop dishing out money because that is against the party’s pro poor policy; what an insult to the people’s intelligence. What does that change? In essence, you are just telling your party members that ‘let’s not show the people how much we have stolen’. Does that solve anything? The fact remains that you have stolen all the money you could put your hands on. Whether you dish it out or you buy materials to bribe the electorate, it does not change anything. That is nothing but burying your head in the sand.

How do you allow people to steal, and when they are arrested you defend them from prosecution, then you come back to stop them from spending the money. What do you want them to do with it? If the Patriotic Front was truly a pro-poor government, they would start by tightening the loopholes for corruption; they would make sure anyone who steals faces the law. If the PF leadership was truly concerned about the millions being thrown around by cadres, MPs and Ministers, they would make sure anyone who makes a donation exceeding a certain threshold is taken to task to explain where they got the money; they would make sure cadres who appear in videos with bundles of money are forced to reveal their sources. But they are not doing this, so it goes without saying that they are happy.

Today Zambia has in excess of US$20 billion in external debt only. The country has twice defaulted on interest payment for the Eurobond. If you look at the money that the government is failing to pay, it’s as little as US$50 million – money which a single minister has stashed in a ceiling somewhere. When you ask them why they are not paying our country’s debt, they say “we cannot pay one creditor leaving the other, it’s better we don’t pay any one of them because we don’t have enough”. Meanwhile, away from their government offices, they are dishing out millions of kwacha to cadres; they are pausing in pictures with trunks and duffle bags filled with dollars.

If a search was conducted at all the residences for PF ministers, MPs and cadres, huge volumes of money would be recovered. The commercial banks don’t have money, the treasury has been sucked dry; but our leaders have more money at home than the government. There is no better name to give this regime other than “Plunderers!” They have no interest in serving the people, they are there to steal and get rich. They don’t care what country they leave behind.

Look at what is happening to the inflation rate; look at what is happening to the exchange rate; look at the price of basic commodities in grocery shops; check the price of bread and kapenta at the market. It’s unbelievable! If anyone stood six years ago and said that by 2021 the kwacha would be trading at K22 to a dollar or that inflation would exceed 22 per cent, that person would have been said to be mad. But this is exactly what is happening, every year our economic indicators are hitting unprecedented records. Yet our ministers and cadres are getting richer and richer. What a shame!