People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) president Andyford Banda has agreed with Muchinga Province Minister Malozo Sichone that Zambia needs to borrow at this stage to supplement next year’s budget since most donor aid was frozen.
And Banda says the fact that the 2019 budget will not be able to support the balance of payment without funds from donors is a sign that President Lungu has lamentably failed to run the country, and as such, he must call for early elections.
The opposition leader said this in an interview when he reacted to calls by Sichone that President Lungu should be supported in borrowing because doing so would help the country make economic returns.
He the problem with the PF government is that it gets too excited when borrowing and in turn start buying luxurious vehicles for themselves.
“We are already in a suicide stage because from day one 2011, the time that the PF came into government, they have been borrowing money. And right now, I may agree with him to a certain stage because truth be told, first of all the donors have pulled out the funding and that is what the government was expecting to support the budget next year. You know business is becoming difficulty [as] a lot of businesses are closing up and there is a chance that next year due to the changes in the budget, the Mining companies may sabotage the government by trying to reduce on production and also laying off employees because of the removal of VAT and the introduction of sales tax and also the increment in the mineral royalty tax. So to agree with him, there will be a huge gap next year between the revenues that were collected to the revenues that were budgeted. So definitely the only way to cover that gap is to borrow,” Banda said.
But Banda was quick to express concern over the misuse of borrowed money.
“Now, the problem we have is [that] when they borrow, they get excited. They start buying planes, they start buying new Mercedes Benz for the president, so there is lack of priorities. Borrowing, you can only allow a government that has got its priorities in the right place to continue borrowing. As it stands, our government priorities are misplaced hence we are of the view that the best way [for] us as PAC we don’t have any more confidence in the PF government. We don’t believe that the PF government can redeem itself, we don’t believe that President Lungu can do anything right going forward,” Banda said.
Banda said Presdient Lungu needed to call for early elections and seek a new mandate from the Zambian people who have lost confidence in him.
“We have to find a way of either, if the constitution allows, he should call for early elections so that he can seek a new mandate from the people of Zambia, parliament can seek a new mandate from the people of Zambia because at the rate we are going, Zambians do not have any confidence in the leadership of the PF. So therefore them borrowing is suicidal and we do not support it because their priorities are misplaced. Just look at what they have been spending money on in the last few months like the Land Cruisers, stealing of social cash transfer, now the aeroplanes, the jets, the president buying himself…it’s like he is just doing things for himself. He is not interested in the well-being of the Zambian people. So that is where our problem is and that is why we don’t believe that it is okay for the PF to borrow,” Banda said.
And Banda said that the purchase of the five planes was not necessary.
“It was very unnecessary for the president to authorise the purchase of jets or to even propose because that idea came from State House. We have a lot of challenges in our country right now. That money would have gone to repaying the debt because the money that was spent on those things is almost half the money that we were supposed to pay the Eurobond. So it clearly shows that the PF have got no priorities at all. They don’t have a moral standing in society because of the way they are doing things. And also they are not transparent in the way they do things. They always want to do things in secrecy so that people cannot know what they are doing but it always comes out in the open. We always learn about these things from the donor community and in the end, they want to start telling us to keep quiet saying that we are denting the country’s image. But what we are saying is that it is not us who are making all these mistakes, it is them. If they want us to say nice things about them, they should do the right things. And as PAC once we form government, we are going to sale off all those jets. And since when did Ministry of Defence start purchasing passenger planes? Under which company?” asked Banda.