Saturday, June 22, 2024

Tears From Washington: The Curious Case of Intransigence, Losing Direction and Sovereignty

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By Dr Canisius BANDA Development Activist 13 April 2023

Like vassals, they went. And like vassals, they will soon come back. Situmbeko MUSOKOTWANE, Zambia’s finance minister, crestfallen, now has tears in his eyes. He has been betrayed. It hurts. He has done as he was told by The Fund.

Do this and that, remove subsidies and torture the citizens, they told him. And so, thinking this was Zambia’s own citizens road to Nirvana, he removed the subsidies and tortured us.

And now it is he who is being tortured, facing the music. Despite his having done everything to the letter, the creditors have opted to ignore him. It really hurts.

And now fear fills him. He is afraid of coming back to Zambia. What is he going to say now? Zambians are now angry, the cost of living now gone mad, tutti frutti. We saw it coming.

We, as Guardians of the Earth, do see these things way before they happen. Unsurprisingly, we are ignored and treated with disdain. We said that the G20 Common Framework for global debt management will fail. And yesterday, 12 April 2023, in Washington, it failed.

You see, its failure was intrinsic to its architecture. Just tell me, where have you seen two enemies who are bent on destroying each other ever agree on a worthy common action?

And the stakes between the West and the East have never been higher. The creditors said, as if just waking up from some financial slumber, these debts are of different kinds, and need to be addressed case by case, and not using a one-glove-fits-all solution, the G20 Common Framework.
Using Zambia as a test case, this is very disappointing for Kristalina GEORGIEVA, the Managing Director of The Fund, for after becoming Zambia’s PR manager and doing a stellar job, this now represents failure on her part.

Yesterday, the creditors insisted that each one of them should deal directly with the debtors. This takes us to what we said years ago that Hakainde HICHILEMA, Zambia’s Republican President, a veritable greenhorn, needed to go to China, Zambia’s lead creditor, and directly engage Xi JINPING, the President of the People’s Republic of China.

Through such direct engagement, Zambia could have achieved many worth and strategic things required for economic recovery and growth.
For example, aside from securing debt repayment rescheduling, debt buyouts, refinancing and debt-to-equity transfers amongst many other debt management instruments, with all US Dollar denominated assets depreciating globally, Zambia could have negotiated, to secure China’s assets, that the USD 6 billion it owes China be now denominated in YUAN at a DISCOUNT.

The use of third parties to manage Zambia’s debt is both naive and offensive. Naive for Zambia. And offensive to some key creditors.

When the US,Secretary to the Treasury Janet YELLEN was in Lusaka, as if a citizen of Zambia, she appealed to China on behalf of Zambia to treat Zambia’s debt favorably.

The Chinese responded by idiomatically making reference to the management of logs in people’s eyes. The World Bank president David MALPASS, a few days ago, again as if a Zambian citizen, appealed to China to commit to helping Zambia..

Unyielding, the Chinese foreign ministry is insistent that what Zambia owes China is only about a third of all Zambia’s debt.
This being the case, the Chinese say, instead of focusing only on us, let all Western lenders to Zambia also extend debt relief to Zambia.
It is this stalemate between West and East coupled with poor leadership judgement at home which now threatens the hold on power of the UPND.
If we do not quickly change course, the UPND government might collapse before 2026.

Zambians are hurting.
Zambian want change.
Zambians are now getting agitated.
This is what happens when sovereignty is given away.
This is what happens when a country geopolitically loses direction, abandons its foreign policy of non-alignment and becomes a VASSAL STATE, an outpost for imperial and neocolonial interests.
Grovelling, we went.

And grovelling, we are coming back.

The SPRING MEETINGS in Washington have deeply disappointed Situmbeko MUSOKOTWANE. They have not gone as he had anticipated.
I feel for the man.

Let us all pray for him that his BP stays normal.

His head is hanging low in shame. I wouldn’t blame him if he is feeling like punching someone in the nose right now.
He is now desperately asking for USD 188 million from the IMF even without the creditors assurances, money which Zambia itself can make in hours.
This is how the world has reduced Situmbeko MUSOKOTWANE, a minister in a country full of GOLD, to a beggar.

I kept my word, he cries.

To deaf ears, now keep yours, he says

For his own health, I would recommend that he STEPS DOWN.
To all intents and purposes, this is,failure.

Zambia, a wealthy country, is now stuck. This is the conundrum, the never-ending paradox in this resource-rich Southern African country.
And if Situmbeko MUSOKOTWANE does not get this paltry USD 188 million, Zambia might now go the Sri Lanka way, as inflation might worsen, Zambia’s curreny might collapse and our imports cover in rour eserves might severely and precariously diminish.
We said this dalliance with the West would end in tears. Now here they are,.
Tears from Washington.

They said become gay, and we all did. We bent backwards, didn’t we? Now where is the reward for our compliance? Perhaps, the solution lies in our being straight. This economic buggery must stop. Just saying.

Instead of coming back from Washington with RELIEF, we are coming back only with frustration, shame and tears.
And these people are giving Ukraine USD 4 billion monthly in economic aid. Double standards? Reality.
‘The IMF should not punish us,’ teary and crestfallen, is all Situmbeko MUSOKOTWANE can now say.
Dear reader, Zambia is punishing itself.

Perhaps God is saying something. I don’t know.
All I know is that RESOURCE SECURITY and FAIR TRADE are some of the key components of a united, prosperous and high income Zambia.
Take heed.
Tinkanena anathera m’si izi. That is Chichewa to mean that ‘what we foresaw has now come to pass.’
A worthy adage for those with ears, a clear and present challenge in Zambia’s leadership today.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Under 5 is now seeing the reality. You don’t have the monopoly of wisdom so be humble. Those are crocodile tears. Situmbeko has made money through allowances. He’s a very happy man

    • The people who hold Zambian bonds are not controlled by the IMF because they are private creditors. They bought Zambian bonds of their own free will and not after the IMF’s recommendation.

  2. Well said Dr Banda.
    This us what so many of us have been saying. Going rushing to grovel at the feet of the west, whose civilisation is crumbling faster than ice in summer. And shunning the rising east. But bally didn’t want to listen. Now he is bringing more trouble on us.
    Mosokotwane was also very pompous when they came to power. Now reality is dawning.

    I bet Xi is just rubbing his hands waiting to grab whatever few assets the country has, while we watch helplessly. And it’s guaranteed that he will shun you when you try to go begging. He will send his garden boy to meet you.
    If he can refuse to take phone calls from Joe biden, I wonder what it will be like for HH.

    • Western civilisation is not crumbling because it is too adaptable for that to happen. I know that you and Canisius Banda do not want the Zambian delegation to get a debt deal. I have no problem with that because getting a deal does not depend on what you and Dr Banda want to happen. It’s curious that you criticise people trying to sort out the debt problem without one word against those who created it.

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  3. What Cannius is saying is what I’ve been saying for now a month, that we should transact with China in Yuan Renminbi, China is our largest trading partner if we can do that imagin the ease on demand for the USD this will create.

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    • China does not want its currency to become a reserve currency out of fear that it will become too strong to support the country’s export competitiveness.

    • @gunner no that is not an accurate explanation of the situation. Have we asked China first of all if we can transact in both our currencies as opposed to the USD? Ask first, based in what they say then we make a plan B, if you haven’t asked you will never know.

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  4. Typical of Zambian/African politics. Celebrating someone’s misfortune even when they effort is for the good of the country/continent.

  5. Gunner in Zambia. Try just for once look critically at what your government is doing… separate nonsense from for nonsense.
    # Swahili for Whatever… how can the doctor celebrate the ” Musokotwane misfortune?” Musokotwane and his Boss thought they were cleverer than all the previous presidents, they could just ask and the money would start flowing in…. that’s what satire is all about. We are all suffering.

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    • Except for this. Dr Musokotwane and group did not put us in the mess in the first place. It is not them who defaulted and neither did they engage the private French consultant at USD 5m restructure their mess. We equally told them to slow down on borrowing. They financed roads that are so finished now it is difficult to understand why we are paying. Where were the likes of Dr Banda and yourselves? Someone trying to solve your mess is a failure? By the way, pay attention. Thee secretary to the Treasurer said they went to china, they have been talking to china. Please just keep watching on the fence as they undo your disservice to the nation

  6. I think you seem to dream too much with Apple time you have on your hands Dr Banda. Just take a step back and see what the ND government is doing to make what was destroyed by your friends in pee efu. Negotiations are silently going on between grz and China and soon we shall come to a conclusion and all will be ok. It is better to be patient than panic over an issue that is not your creation.
    Take a deep breath and take a step backward and see how the govt is handling the issues that were created by your friends.

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  7. The problem is that praise singers and other sycophants see things differently. We’re not celebrating but only re-stating what many of us have said before. We knew that this effort was going to fail unless China is engaged at the highest level. Hichilema has refused to heed that advice and this the result. As long as he doesn’t engage President Xi directly, not by phone call, nothing will come out of his debt restructuring efforts. It’s as simple as that. Individually that team won’t suffer anything. They’ve made their allowances and will return with bags of exotic goods

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