The call by Chief Government Spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili to have people who have disclosed to the Post Newspapers on a $192 million Government obtained from China to the public is misplaced. While we agree with Hon Kambwili that it is an offence to leak classified Government document and that the State is not obliged to disclose security matters to the public, informing the public that Government has on their behalf acquired a public loan that would be used on Security matters is not disclosing security matters.
What Government must acknowledge is that they had wanted to hide the fact that they had acquired such a huge loan from another foriegn government which the Zambian people ought to know about because it is the people and our children who are going to pay these loans.
Zambia, like other countries including the UK and the US have the practice of declaring their security budgets and only oppressive regimes don’t do that. For instance, there was nothing wrong with Government disclosing the 2015 Budget estimates of K501,301,315 to Zambia Security Intelligence Services (ZSIS) because thus has been the practice.
As YALI, we concerned that Government has continued to overlook the motion that Parliament unanimously passed on 17 October 2013 that compels government and the minister of Finance to seek authorization from parliament before any external and internal debts are contracted.
By passing that motion in Parliament, the Zambian people through their representatives, had made it clear that they wanted to curb and restrain borrowings. We want to borrow the words of Hon Minister of Sports, Vincent Mwale, who was the mover of the motion that the rate at which the Patriotic Front (PF) government is borrowing was recklessly and a source of concern, and if not stopped or regulated the country would slip into serious indebtedness.
In our governance system, one would expect Parliament to ask the Executive on why they are disobeying it’s unanimous decision to which they Executive was a part to.
We want to remind Mr. Kambwili and President Lungu that there was nothing wrong with telling Zambians that they had borrowed such huge amounts of money from China unless it wasn’t the intention of Government to use the intended secuity purpose.
We however wish to agree with Hon Kambwili that the practice of leaking Government documents especially Cabinet decisions and discussions need to come to an end as that confidentiality required in managing certain decisions in this country.
What is sad is that even some leaders like Hon Jean Kapata had the courage to use the same cabinet documents and more of PF Cabinet Ministers did not find it wrong to use discussions in Cabinet in furtherance of their own political battles during the handover of power from the then acting President Edgar Lungu to Guy Scott when President Sata had died in London. That action by the Ministers and Mr. Nguni had set a bad precedent which these civil servants are now following.
As YALI, we want to emphasise on the need by President Lungu to transparently manage this country but also call on civil servants to respect the issues of confidentiality. There is nothing wrong though in blowing the whistle that Government is hiding a huge loan it had contracted and the hiding of such a huge loan questions on the real purpose of such a loan.
Young African Leaders Initiative