FRED M’membe has told finance minister Bwalya Ng’andu not to continue protecting criminals.
He was commenting on the Zambian government’s failure to honour its debt servicing obligations, at his Garden Compound office in Lusaka yesterday.
Dr M’membe, the Socialist Party president, recalled that on September 22 this year, Dr Ng’andu announced that he had made a request to bondholders to suspend debt servicing for six months because: “Zambia was not in a position to meet her debt servicing obligations due on October 14, 2020.”
“As you may be aware, 40 per cent of bondholders immediately refused to grant Zambia debt servicing suspension,” Dr M’membe, an economist, said on behalf of the politburo of the Socialist Party. “The Zambian government had hoped that when 60 per cent of bondholders met last Friday, which was the last day of the one month grace period given to pay from the initial due date, the bondholders would agree with their proposals. But they too refused.”
Zambia has officially become the first country in Africa to default on Eurobonds, albeit it already defaulted on other unknown Chinese debt obligations.
Dr M’membe expressed the Socialist Party’s concern with the lack of seriousness from the Treasury when dealing with such important issues.
He said Zambia had plenty human resource that: “we have invested in as a country and worked at the highest level at both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.”
Dr M’membe said it was an embarrassment to Zambia that Dr Ng’andu “lied” about his engagement with bondholders, “only for them to issue a statement the following day that there had been no direct contact between them and the Zambian government.”
“Why did Dr Bwalya Ng’andu lie to the nation? Is he covering up on the debt that was borrowed under the cover of darkness?” Dr M’membe wondered. “They say, ‘you can run but you can’t hide…You can fool some people all the time, but you can’t fool all people all the time.’”
He stressed that reality had finally dawned on the PF government.
Dr M’membe said what the international community was demanding is transparency on the Chinese debt obligations.
“The demand by the Minister of Finance, through his representatives, that bondholders should sign a non-disclosure agreement before he discloses the extent of Chinese debt and the conditions attached thereof should be of interest to every Zambian because this is public debt which you will all pay for,” he said.
He said most of the loans have inflated figures because of amounts a few greedy individuals collected as facilitation fees.
Dr M’membe said the international community was well aware of the extent of corruption and was now collaborating with bondholders to expose how corrupt the government was.
“As the Socialist Party, we wish to announce to the nation that the reason why this government has since 2016 refused to open its books to the IMF on the Chinese debt is because that would reveal the Patriotic Front’s massive penchant for bribes,” Dr M’membe noted. “Once that information on the Chinese debt is given, it will reveal how much money was shared and by who. At the moment, Ministry of Finance officials have been struggling to balance the figures before the IMF team comes in. Dr Ng’andu must not continue protecting criminals. There is no place for them to hide anymore!”
According to Dr M’membe, Dr Ng’andu has two options; either he reveals the actual figures of the Chinese debt and the PF goes down: “so that we can protect our economy or he lets Patriotic Front continue hiding their nefarious acts and we all go down.”
“Dr Ng’andu has to make that choice because time is of essence. Thankfully, since we cannot demand accountability and transparency from the powerful politicians and their fellow gangsters outside government, a far more powerful group has come to our rescue,” noted Dr M’membe.
“Lelo balasebena ba pompwe munshibila nsala (today, these petty thieves will be embarrassed).”