Sunday, October 23, 2016

(LUSAKA TIMES) IMF Bailout: A Strangulation of Zambia’s Future

COMMENT - Excellent article. Even more, it is already known that if there is this level of economic violence, pushed to a head by austerity measures, there are going to be what the former World Bank Vice Chairman Joseph Stiglitz has called the IMF Riots.

(LUSAKA TIMES) IMF Bailout: A Strangulation of Zambia’s Future
October 23, 2016

Fellow countrymen and women, comrades and friends, allow me to first echo the wise words of the revolutionary icon Thomas Sankara. “Debt is a cleverly managed reconquest of Africa.” “He who feeds you, controls you.”

Once again, our leaders today have failed to think. They were employed by the Zambian people to think wisely on behalf of the nation. They were voted to improve and safeguard the welfare of the Zambian people. They were not employed to contract gigantic loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or any other lending institution. Even at gun point, I refuse to accept that borrowing money from the IMF at the detriment of Zambia’s future is part of their mandate. Their mandate is to think of alternative sustainable ways to resuscitate the economy, as opposed to rushing to the IMF for a bailout that strangles the country’s future especially the poorest citizens. A government that cannot think of alternative ways to regrow the economy apart from borrowing from these money-lending institutions is not fit to hold public office. It is now clear, our ministers are appointed, not to think on behalf of the ministries they lead, but to ceremonially occupy such positions while shamelessly enjoying free housing, transport, electricity, airtime, state security and gallivanting around the globe at the expense of taxpayer’s money.

the IMF promotes a fertile ground for breeding poverty, making it impossible for poor countries to eradicate poverty and realize food security

I am struggling to understand why our politicians have failed to comprehend that the so called bailout package from the IMF has never been a viable and sustainable option to resuscitate an ailing economy. You do not need a PhD, bachelor’s degree, diploma, or certificate to understand the ramifications of an IMF bailout package. A simple perusal through the conditionalities attached to such a bailout package should enable even a rural dweller, who has never been to school, to understand that the IMF bailout is a well-calculated scheme to keep the poor poorer.

There is no rocket science involved in understanding that the IMF discourages you from subsidizing your own farmers. In this regard, the IMF promotes a fertile ground for breeding poverty, making it impossible for poor countries to eradicate poverty and realize food security. The IMF further emphasises reduction of government funding to health and education, a condition that goes counter to the campaign championing access to education and healthcare for all. Such a condition further strangles the country’s efforts to build a productive human resource pool. It is simple. If you don’t fund your education system, then the country’s capacity to produce its own skilled manpower – teachers, nurses, medical doctors, lawyers et cetera is substantially curtailed. In the long term, such skills will have to be sourced externally at an astronomical cost on the country’s treasury. Moreover, privatization and liberalization, which are a hallmark of the IMF, have the potential to completely decimate domestic industries. Fellow Zambians, you will agree with me that we have been yearning for a Zambia with the capacity to produce its own goods and services. The IMF is here to shatter this dream. Surely, with all these real-life practical examples, it is shocking to see our ministers, some of them very educated, failing to understand that the IMF is here to perpetuate poverty. Our dream to become a politically and economically independent country will remain an illusion as long as we embrace institutions like the IMF and the World Bank.

Fellow patriots, allow me to conclude by stating one logical fact. Should Zambia accept this IMF bailout, it is the elite politicians that should bear the burden of austerity measures. Ordinary Zambians have suffered enough already. As part of austerity, the republican president should be relocated to another modesty housing. This may sound crazy to most of you because you are accustomed to seeing a republican president living a lavish lifestyle in state house. It cannot be disputed that the country spends astronomical sums of money in trying to sustain state house.

Moreover, it is immoral to continue enjoying a lavish life in state house while your citizens are dying of hunger induced by austerity measures from the IMF. Unless an international trip will add value to the country’s well-being, the republican president and his ministers should not gallivant around the world. It is important to note that most of the international trips are totally irrelevant to the suffering common man. Additionally, the use of a private jet aircraft on international trips should be abolished. We should also scrape off free entitlements such as housing, fuel, electricity, transport et cetera from our ministers. Most importantly, the ridiculously big and expensive ministerial cars which guzzle unreasonable litres of fuel should be auctioned and cheaper cars purchased in their place. There are many other ridiculous entitlements that we need to scrap off from our public office bearers. Politicians too, need to share in the burden of austerity.

By Peter Mubanga Cheuka

Labels: , , , ,