By Lubinda Haabazoka.
It is very easy to condemn the debt swap especially when you are not a beneficiary.
What is funny is that those that are condemning the debt swap are the ones in the forefront preaching on how life is difficult.
The debt swap should not come as a surprise because such negotiations started last year when Covid hit! It’s just that we were either busy politicking or commenting on other scandals but cabinet office announced this intervention last year!
The President of Zambia last week highlighted the various interventions he put in place to cushion the economy from the negative effects of Covid 19 as follows:
- created the K10bn medium-term financing facility to help companies refinance loans gotten before Covid. Loan repayment have favorable conditions with a moratorium of one year on repayments. This move prevented a banking crisis caused by liquidity problems arising from massive loan defaults under Covid conditions. This move was some form of debt swap but for companies.
- Government also issued an k8bn bond that saw arrears paid to suppliers of government goods and services. This move injected liquidity into the economy. Note that such an intervention occurred without printing money unlike in other countries where printers were switched on to fund their citizens.
- Then government moved in to help the vulnerable population. Government increased the number of social cash transfer recipients to over 925,000 people across the country. This is no mean achievement for an African country. Zambia remains one of the few African countries to pay its vulnerable people.
- Then government under DMMU escalated the food security packs with GRZ feeding 1.7m Zambians at the peak of the program. Today, 1.3m Zambians benefit from food security packs made available by GRZ. This is no mean achievement for any government in the world.
- So now government has moved in to provide relief to the hard working population starting with its own employees I.e civil servants. The debt swap will definitely free up resources for indebted employees. The only person that can condemn this is one who doesn’t relate to the challenges on the ground amid the Covid 19 pandemic.
In conclusion, if I was a political player, I would commend government for these interventions and propose more of such interventions once elected instead of saying when elected we shall do away with social cash transfer because it’s costly. People being helped under social cash transfer are also Zambians and should therefore be helped by their government. When you remove social cash transfer where shall you take the over 925,000 Zambians benefiting? Let’s have a human heart here.
To also say debt swap is politicking is unfair because this intervention started last year. To say this is bad is more like telling an employee that please continue carrying the debt burden. For me, it’s what you promise me that matters and not what you condemn.