In a press conference held on Thursday, December 29, 2022, Hon Given Lubinda, acting President of the Patriotic Front, declared that the economy of Zambia is in grave danger under the current administration of President Hakainde Hichilema.
Hon Lubinda criticized the President for his decision to make mineral royalty tax deductible, arguing that it has allowed much needed taxes from the mining sector to be transferred to foreign countries. He pointed out that, despite producing around 800,000 tonnes of copper, Zambians are unable to benefit from the current levels of production. Hon Lubinda questioned the value of producing 3 million tonnes of copper in the next decade if the country is unable to benefit from its current levels of production.
“Our mineral resources are a national endowment which should benefit Zambians now and in the future,” Hon Lubinda said. “If we can’t benefit from the current production of around 800,000 tonnes, of what use is it to produce 3 million tonnes? If Zambians are not to benefit from these mines here and now, we are better off closing them until such a time that more patriotic Zambians take charge of the running of the country.”
In addition to the issue of mineral royalty tax, Hon Lubinda also criticized President Hichilema for failing to achieve his campaign promise of restructuring debt to sustainable levels. He noted that official statistics show that Zambia’s external debt arrears grew by 42% from $2.6 billion in June 2022 to $3.8 billion by September of the same year.
“This is an extremely disappointing performance by a man who claimed to know how to fix the economy and a team that celebrated the IMF bailout package,” Hon Lubinda said. “We are aware of the fact that the World Bank released a loan of $740 million this year alone. Added to the $1.4 billion from the IMF entered into at the end of 2021, the total external borrowing in two years only has been a staggering $2.1 billion. The 2023 national budget has nearly $1 billion in external financing. At this rate, how much will these people have borrowed by the end of 2025?”
Furthermore, Hon Lubinda pointed out that, despite borrowing more than $2.1 billion from external sources and having a domestic debt of K79 billion, there have been no major infrastructure development projects initiated.
“What is more worrying is that, even after borrowing more than $2.1 billion from external sources and having domestic debt of K79 billion, there is not a single major infrastructure development project that has been initiated,” he said.
In conclusion, Hon Lubinda stated that the economy of Zambia is in peril under the current administration and that it may be necessary to consider closing the mines if citizens are unable to benefit from them. He called on more patriotic leaders to take charge of the country in order to address these issues and put the economy on a path to recovery.