President Hakainde Hichilema has brushed aside assertions suggesting that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal will come with harsh conditions that will result in the privatization of some public companies and subsequent loss of jobs.
The Zambia-IMF deal of the early 1990’s came with the privatization of many government firms that led to job losses in the public sector.
The IMF Board recently approved about US$1.3 billion – a 38-month ECF arrangement for Zambia to help restore macroeconomic stability and foster higher, more resilient, and more inclusive growth.
Zambia had been pursuing an IMF-supported economic programme since 2016 and it became the first African nation to default on its debt in November 2020.
Featuring on a Radio Icengelo Interview in Ndola on Monday morning, President Hichilema assured Zambians that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal will not come with privatisation of public companies as alleged by government critics.
The Head of State, who is visiting the Copperbelt Province, said it is propaganda to allege that the IMF deal will come with privatisation of public companies and job losses.
President Hichilema said the interest free IMF loan will be used for investment in the education sector, health sector and social protection sector.
He said the New Dawn Government is not borrowing for consumption like the PF government.
President Hichilema added that the IMF deal is an outcome of homegrown solutions to the current economic challenges that have ravaged Zambia.
“We do not want to borrow for consumption. Mwaya mwakongola ulupia mwashita ka motoka tamwakwata ng’anda ba Valentine (interviewer Valentine Mukuka) mulechita rent nomba Mwaya mukongola ulupia mwashita ka BMW instead ukushita akayanda pakuti muleke ukulipila rent. You think you are happy you think you are clever? You are not smart. So, the first thing is to say don’t borrow to use money to eat. When you access money, access it to invest so that you can generate more money. That is why I keep cattle; instead of buying a BMW when I was young I bought cattle and they reproduced. Then they gave me more money. As simple as that, the economy is like that,” President Hichilema.
“There is nothing like that (privatization and job losses). No no. Ba Valentine tulanda ati e propaganda ii. When a person fails to think, destroys the economy then some people come to fix it like we promised that Bally will fix it. As we fix some people are thinking what are we going to say now? Let us say this to confuse the people. There are no such conditions. I said this is our programme. It is not the IMF Programme. The IMF comes to support our own home grown programme and we cannot set conditions like that, we cannot agree to those conditions. How can we agree to those conditions if we want to grow the economy, if we want to create jobs? That is our agenda to create jobs ba Valentine wesu,” Mr. Hichilema responded.
Meanwhile, President Hakainde Hichilema has pleaded with Copperbelt residents to be patient as the Government looks for solutions to address challenges affecting the mining sector.
President Hichilema said the Government will soon announce new developments regarding the way forward on Mopani Copper Mines that need capital investment.
The Head of State said the Government is restoring sanity in the mining sector which was left in shambles by the previous Patriotic Front regime.
Mr. Hichilema said the PF regime made a big mistake by liquidating Konkola Copper Mines and when buying Mopani Copper Mines from Swiss firm Glencore.
“We are working rapidly to unlock the Glencoe problem. You know there is a Glencoe problem in Mopani there? Where 1.5 million dollars by our friends in PF. I don’t know..Kushipula ndelanda uku, how the transaction was done I don’t understand but it’s our duty to unlock it now. We have brought in everybody on the table and very rapidly ndelomba abena Kopala, we have demonstrated to you that we can unblock things. Let us continue working together in that direction. Let us not be despondent. Let us not go and do wrong things. We are on the right path to unlock KCM and Mopani and everybody will benefit from that. What benefit will it be to say now tatulefwaya ukubomba, no we down tools when the solution is coming,” he said.
Some miners working for contracting firms under Mopani Copper Mines recently down tools over salary arrears.
Mopani has not been consistently paying its contractors and suppliers as it struggles financially due to lack of capital investment.
On 31 March 2021, ZCCM-IH acquired 90% of the shares in Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) from Carlisa Investment Corporation, owned by Glencore and First Quantum Minerals, following approval by ZCCM-IH shareholders at an Extraordinary General Meeting.
The amount negotiated was $1.5 billion to be repaid annually over a period of 10 to 17 years.