CAPE TOWN – 11TH FEBRUARY, 2016 – ZAMBIA is not broke, Finance Deputy Minister, Mr. Christopher Mvunga has said.
The Deputy Minister has described the assertions that the country has depleted its reserves as myths being perpetrated by people he termed as detractors.
He said Zambians should believe in President Edgar Lungu’s leadership and know that the country was being governed by a responsible Government pointing out that Zambia’s reserves were ‘safe and sound.’
Mr. Mvunga also defended Government’s contraction of debt saying this was necessary if the country was to develop. He said Government has not borrowed for consumption but for capital projects which should spur development.
“Zambia is not broke. It’s the myths of our detractors. Our spending is being done judiciously with a lot of costs having been cut down following President Lungu’s directive in November last year.
“If we don’t borrow, how is the country going to develop. We need infrastructure in place for investment to come through. Even in homes we all borrow to undertake a venture. We are not borrowing for consumption such as to pay salaries or things like that. Go to Zambia and you will see how the country has been transformed. That is where the money is going,” Mr. Mvunga said.
The Deputy Minister said the road network across the country has been developed to such levels that there was no difference between driving in rural and urban areas.
He said Government was not worried about the debt as it was still within the allowable threshold.
Mr. Mvunga was speaking when Government officials led by Mines and Minerals Development Minister Mr. Christopher Yaluma, met Zambians living in Cape Town on Tuesday night.
Others in the entourage were Mines Deputy Minister Mr. Richard Musukwa and Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba, and officials from the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria.
And Mr. Yaluma told the crowd that Zambia did not do a good job when privatising the mines as it was made to sign agreements with the investors that have come to haunt the nation today.
He cited agreements signed on energy for the mines and taxes as some of the areas that have resulted in the country failing to maximise on benefits which should be derived from the mining sector.
Mr. Yaluma said the PF Government was remorseful after seeing people in the mines lose jobs when one of its prime objectives was to create employment.
“Of course when we went into power, we promised jobs but we have been hit by what we never anticipated with regard to the copper prices and on top of that we have a serious energy shortage in the country.
“About 9, 000 people have lost jobs from the mining sector. It was not our wish to see this happen. We engaged the mine owners before they resorted to this action and we understood that they needed to shed off workers if they were to survive. It is not only in Zambia that such things have happened but Zambia is hit by not only low commodity prices but also a serious energy shortage,” Mr. Yaluma said.
The Minister said the revised Mines and Minerals Act has been positioned to ensure that Zambians benefited from mining activities.
He told the audience that Zambia had been transformed in terms of infrastructure such that one could drive from Cape Town in any type of vehicle to Shan’gombo in Zambia.
He said President Lungu has promised to see through late President Michael Sata’s vision of ensuring that each province had a university, the country was land linked to the rest of the continent through good road network, improved health and education facilities.
“Let us pray for the next term of office for President Lungu and I can assure you will see wonders in the transformation of our country
Mr. Yaluma also bemoaned the rampant corruption in Government institutions saying this had ‘killed the nation.’
An emotional Yaluma asked a lady from the audience who said she had been having difficulties to register her engineering company in Zambia as she was being asked to pay huge amounts of money at various stages.
The Minister said he understood the procedure involved in registering engineering companies and described this as a pure case of corruption. He asked the lady to provide particulars of all the people she had dealt with in Zambia so that he could ensure that they were dismissed and prosecuted.
Mr. Yaluma, who said he had plans of venturing into power generation, invited a Zambian engineering student in South Africa to partner with him in setting up a plant.
And Mr. Musukwa said Zambians have seen Government’s resolve to transform the country from being dependent to a self-reliant one.
“What we have been doing since 2011 is to lay the foundation and then you will see the fruits in the near future.”
Mr. Musukwa also explained that Government had no difficulties in paying mining companies tax refunds except for those who had failed produce the necessary documents.
He advised Zambians in the diaspora to be careful with what they read or heard from some sections of society as there were a lot of pessimists who wanted to make political mileage out certain situations.
On the question when Zambians living abroad would start enjoying the status of dual citizenship, High Commissioner Mwamba said there were certain pieces of legislation that were yet to be worked on in order to support the implementation of the new law.
Mr. Mwamba encouraged Zambians living in South Africa to apply for dual citizenship through the High Commission.
He said he has adopted an open door policy from the time he assumed office and invited Zambians to feel free to approach the High Commission whenever they needed assistance.
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