Saturday, April 12, 2014

Nawakwi questions govt borrowing
By Henry Sinyangwe
Sat 28 Dec. 2013, 14:01 CAT

FDD leader Edith Nawakwi has questioned the intention by government to borrow more money to finance the budget. Meanwhile, Nawakwi says 2014 will present hunger and inadequate funding to government departments.

Government next year intends to borrow K9.64 billion to finance part of the budget for 2014, which is about 22.6 per cent of the national budget. Government last November raised the country's debt external debt ceiling from K20 billion to K35 billion.

Nawakwi said President Michael Sata should get rid of Chikwanda to save the country from another calamity of a debt trap.

"Time has come for the honourable Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda to shift from his current position into retirement. I know that a lot of us don't like doing the honourable thing, that is to resign from one's position. So the President of this Republic must save this country from the impending calamity of pushing Zambia into another debt trap," Nawakwi said.

She said the World Bank and the IMF had lost confidence in the economic management of the country.

"Today's reading that they are worried is just a tip of the iceberg. The truth is IMF is headed back to set up camp in Lusaka in January 2014 because they do not believe that Chikwanda is managing our economy competently. This is coupled with his inability to listen to those of us who he terms 'street people' when we talk about his lack of knowledge on management of our fiscal regime in this country. There are 13 million of us in this country and for sure, we must have one child somewhere in the corners of Zambia who can serve this country with diligence, competence and direction," said Nawakwi, who once served as finance minister in the Frederick Chiluba era.

She said some ministers were arrogant.

"Early this year, I raised the alarm that the budget had burst, that the Minister of Finance was not in the frame of mind to be able to control the runaway expenditure. There was hue and cry from the ministry. They tried to justify their actions to the point where even the likes of labour minister Fackson Shamenda had to criticise my persona. I then still raise the alarm that by January 2014, IMF is setting up camp again in Zambia due to their lack of confidence in the management of our economy by the current Minister of Finance," Nawakwi said.

She said the country no longer required Chikwanda's services.

"If the President does not listen to this very serious and timely advice, he has himself to blame for what Zambia is going to be in the next three or four years. 2014, we will be faced with hunger; 2014, we will be faced with inadequate funding to departments and ministries. We have doctors and nurses on strike, the Minister of Finance is mute; we have no medicines in the hospitals, we have no mealie-meal in several places and the buck stops at the Ministry of Finance," Nawakwi said.

She said she did not understand why President Sata thought Chikwanda was the only Minister of Finance the country could have.

"If the President is not able to relieve him, I think my brother should be honourable enough to say he needs to rest and allow younger people to be able to assist this country," Nawakwi said.

"This is a person who wants to export copper ore, this is a person who doesn't care whether nurses are on strike, this is the nominated member of parliament who doesn't care about the state of the University of Zambia. Unless we clear the stumbling block at the Ministry of Finance, whether it is PF, FDD, UPND, we may dance and cry, the buck stops at the Ministry of Finance."

She also expressed worry that Chikwanda signed the SI allowing exports of copper concentrates without any charge, which was later reversed by President Sata.

"If my minister doesn't understand that gold and other precious minerals are not found in independent mines, they are by-products of copper concentrates and he wants to give it as a Christmas gift to some companies, what can we discus? We are simply sitting on a time bomb," Nawakwi said.

She said a lot was sacrificed to get Zambia's debt written off, hence the country could not sit and watch mismanagement of the economy in the name of PF and some ministers in government.

"The reason we are having so much ineptitude is due to the fact that some of these brothers are nominated MPs. You go to Ministry of Education, there is no progress, you got to finance, he tells us 'shut up, you are advising me from the streets on windfall tax', you go to Ministry of Agriculture, the gentleman doesn't even know when we should plant our seeds. You go to Ministry of Health, there are problems. You go to Ministry of Justice, you want to get the constitution on time, who does he report to? He has no constituency apart from number one the President," Nawakwi said.

She said the country was facing major problems because critical ministries were manned by people who had no constituencies.

"These nominated MPs are living in ivory towers and as far as I am concerned, my only advice to President Sata for 2014 is to get rid of this lot. Let him nominate women and see what they can do. Let's get a different direction for 2014 and that can only happen if we come to 2014 without my brother Chikwanda at the helm of our treasury," Nawakwi said.

She said Chikwanda must not take the country to the days when a head of state must start telling the nation to tighten belts.

"This is the time when we need to loosen our belts. If you are going to injure us in this way, we are going to fight. This is injury, especially for those of us who spent long hours, days negotiating with the international community to write off our debt," said Nawakwi.

"People like ABC have not experienced what it takes to negotiate a debt write-off, to camp in a foreign capital, begging. He has not experienced what late Cardinal Mazombwe experienced and many Zambians who fought to get the debt written off; that's why he is so arrogant."

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