Opinion

LOBBYING FOR DEBT RELIEF

THE stand taken by the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to ask all workers to help lobby for debt relief for the country is commendable.
This is the patriotism that the country needs. Putting country first is indeed a noble thing to do for any citizen.
Unlike people who go out of their way to lobby the international community to forsake helping this country, the ZCTU has shown what true patriots do.
When times are hard, it is important to come together as a nation and work to serve national interests.
ZCTU General Secretary Cosmas Mukuka said when he officiated at the Hotel, Catering, Tourism and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (HCTAWUZ) 14th quadrennial conference held at the Lusaka Hotel, that workers should all lobby for debt relief for Zambia.
This is of course coming in the wake of some bondholders refusing to give this country some relief in form of a six months period during which the government would not have paid any of the bondholders. Alas, this was rejected much to the amusement of the local doomsayers.
Many of the problems that the country has found itself in have been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic and this can hardly be blamed on any government because it has affected all economies.
Even big economies are grappling to recover from the Covid-19 induced economic down turn. Many developed countries are struggling to provide food packs to the millions of their starving nationals.
Even closer to home, other African countries are struggling to settle debts, with some, like South Africa and Kenya having their credit ratings downgraded.
This is the same fate that Zambia finds itself. But rather than wallow in self-pity, Government has taken steps to ensure that we get out of this, with our self-respect intact.
It is therefore gratifying to note that there are other organisations that wish well for this country.
As Mr Mukuka observed, Covid-19 had so far robbed Zambia a year in production time resulting in slowing down of the economy. This means that we have had almost a year of low productivity because of industries being closed down.
The labour leader therefore called on all trade unions to join the ZCTU in demanding that lenders forgive Zambia some of the monies it owes or postpone debt payments to allow the country to recover from the economic shocks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the ruthless effects of Covid-19 throughout the world was first and foremost a human tragedy, affecting the health of millions of people, the consequences of this has led to a devastating impact on the global economy.
Mr Mukuka said the hospitality industry was one of the sectors that has been hard hit by the outbreak of the Covid-19, which has presented the sector with unprecedented challenges because of the measures put in place aimed at combating the pandemic.
“Measures such as lockdowns, social distancing, stay at home orders, travel and mobility restrictions have resulted in temporal closure of many hospitality businesses which led to job loses,” Mr Mukuka said.
Opposition leaders who want to kill the goose that lays the egg by badmouthing the country on the international stage, should take a leaf from the union leaders who truly love this country.
Zambians should rally behind the government and ensure that the country gets the debt relief it needs to survive.

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