Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chikwanda justifies donor aid conditions
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Wed 28 Aug. 2013, 14:01 CAT

FOREIGN donors tying good governance conditions to aid are merely endorsing moral benchmarks the PF regime has set for itself, says finance minister Alexander Chikwanda.

Last Thursday, justice minister Wynter Kabimba said the PF government would not accept aid tied to conditions relating to governance as long as it remains in power.

During a farewell dinner for Indian High Commissioner to Zambia, Ashok Kumar, Kabimba warned foreign diplomats who tended to blackmail the government with assistance to keep their aid.

"Aid is being tied to the question of how we govern ourselves as a country," said Kabimba, who is PF secretary general.

"Those that think that they can use aid to govern our country, they can keep their aid because I do not see the correlation between the two. We would like to have allies that relate with us with mutual respect."

But in a statement issued yesterday, Chikwanda stated that good governance was cardinal as bad governance infringed rights of ordinary Zambians and was prone to resource misdirection through corruption and priority misallocation.

He stated that the international community had endorsed Zambia's internal track record of peace and harmony and irrevocable commitment to upholding human rights and basic tenets of good governance.
Chikwanda stated that failure by the government to observe good governance would be unacceptable.

"When external donors invoke adherence to good governance in their aid packages, they are merely endorsing the moral benchmarks which we have set for ourselves," he stated in a statement issued by Ministry of Finance public relations officer Chileshe Kandeta.

"Donor countries have responsibilities and are accountable to their taxpayers, who do not want to see their hard-earned money directed to support countries that perpetrate infringements of human rights. For Zambians, good governance is cardinal because bad governance infringes their rights and is prone to resource misdirection through corruption and priority misallocation. That is unacceptable."

Chikwanda stated that the PF regime was genuinely committed to upholding good governance and the rule of law.

"We are, as a country, committed to maintenance of fundamental freedoms and good governance, not as a gimmick or tactic to secure external charity, but because that is part of our development agenda," he stated.

"As government, we are the custodian of the composite interests of our people. We administer resources made available by Zambians as taxpayers both directly and indirectly through arrangements such as value added taxes."

Chikwanda stated that Zambia would continue to be a role model for fostering and pushing forward frontiers of common fellowship and humanity.

"We should maintain legitimate pride as a country which has a total absence of hostility towards other people, commonly known as xenophobia," he stated.

"For government, this is our covenant with our people who have entrusted us with the mandate to preside over their fate and destiny. It is in this context that this statement is made to put the issue of external support in context. To the extent that no country has resources other than what its citizens generate Zambia's development prospects and sustainability can only rely on internal dynamics. We cannot re-assign responsibility for our welfare to others."

Chikwanda stated that although Zambia's dependence on external aid had reduced considerably over the years and was now less than five per cent of the national budget and insignificant as a percentage of the national economy, most of the success the country was enjoying was due to forgiveness of aid by key donors.

"Our external benefactors now feel Zambia should rely more on external trade and investment as an engine of growth than aid with its obvious limitations and which is in any case a short-term expedient," stated Chikwanda.

"Even as we push towards zero external subventions, we will continue to strengthen our external relations and safeguarding our image as a credible investment destination anchored on policy consistence and predictability."

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