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Is HH honest in praising Chiluba today – Chama

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By Kombe Mataka

PF national chairperson Davis Chama says he finds it deceitful for President Hakainde Hichilema to praise late Frederick Chiluba whom he disliked.
He wondered if the President’s praise for Chiluba at the 11th memorial service on Saturday was honest because he had strongly condemned him in the past.

Chama also noted President Hichilema’s lamentation that he never imagined that the country would slide into a US $20 billion debt, after Zambia’s foreign debt was written off through the efforts presidents Chiluba and Levy Mwanawasa.

“Is he being honest in praising Chiluba today, because he strongly condemned president Chiluba? He was insulting the MMD government. President Chiluba was a visionary leader. People insulted him and called him all sorts of names. So for me who understands the dynamics of politics, I have said I will never insult him or any leader because any leader that we have had from Dr Kenneth Kaunda to president Lungu was a nationalist. They meant well,” Chama told The Mast.

“Yes they are humans, they can make mistakes. But they had cabinets which meant well. Every cabinet means well as they deliberate and they have technocrats who advise them but this tendency where you want to insult every person that ‘they didn’t mean well; they were criminals is not the way we are going to develop the country. When there are mistakes, you can correct those mistakes because those are not intentional mistakes. You can generate a policy and it fails but along the way, you can correct it and perfect it. If they (UPND) will just be condemning at the rate they are doing, they will not do anything.”

Chama said the UPND was seemingly contradicting itself in many respects.

“I heard this Minister of Infrastructure [Charles Milupi] saying ‘us we will be borrowing to invest in the economy’ but the same President when he had an interview on Diamond TV with Costa Mwansa while in the opposition, he said when the UPND takes over, they will not borrow – they stop borrowing completely,” he recalled.

“According to him, we over borrowed and reached the celling but for them to go to IMF to go and borrow $1.4 billion, you’re borrowing to sell bonds…As we are talking now, they are borrowing locally. Maybe they are not borrowing externally or maybe they are borrowing externally without informing the nation but locally they are borrowing on a monthly basis. When you auction treasury bills it means you are borrowing internally.”

Chama insisted that he did not see anything strange about the $20 billion debt that had accrued.

“Us (PF), we were borrowing and we were paying. That is why there was confidence which was built. Ask people who were lending us money. We were paying. They are not paying,” he claimed.

“He does not understand anything. If you look at highly indebted countries in the World, Zambia is not on top of the 100 countries of highly indebted countries. The number one country that is high indebted is the United States of America. It is in trillions of dollars. The top 10 are the most developed countries including Britain, Germany, Japan.
The most developed countries are in the top brackets. Even China is one of the top borrowers. You can’t tell me you can run a country without borrowing.”

Chama added that “we were borrowing to grow the economy”.

“The Airport (Kenneth Kaunda International Airport), Kazungula Bridge where he took President [Paul] Kagame [of Rwanda]. If he knew that we had borrowed to build that Kazungula Bridge, if he has any shame at all, he wouldn’t have taken President Kagame there. Look at the green airport we built on the Copperbelt in Ndola, the Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport. Look at the expansion of Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. We borrowed to develop roads because you cannot develop an economy without a linkage of the land,” he said.

Chama said it was not true that the borrowing had been done without a compensating asset as implied by President Hichilema.

“We knew when we were borrowing that we had necessary revenue because we had a strategy. They have no strategy. We borrowed to build the Momboshi Dam and many other dams so we expand the agriculture sector in terms of exporting the non-traditional exports. We were not just borrowing recklessly like people who were not thinking. We knew what we were doing. I was acting minister of finance and minister of defence but I understand why we were borrowing. And I supported the borrowing because I knew that the borrowing was necessary,” he said.

“The most highly indebted countries are developed countries. Why do you think they borrow? And these are countries Africans are admiring and running to. So when people are in government and they don’t understand these dynamics in terms of how you develop the country, he can talk the way he is talking. So on top of the US $20 billion he is talking about, why is he borrowing an additional US $1.4 billion from IMF? So let us not be insincere.”

Chama challenged the UPND to show how they would develop using locally generated resources.

“I can tell you, I can bet with anybody, analyse the budget. Internally generated resources cannot be used to finance all the civil servants’ recurrent expenditure, the personal emoluments and then later on do infrastructure development.

But along the months, along the years, this infrastructure that we have built is deteriorating and we need to expand it into the rural sector,” said Chama.

The Mast

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