Letters

DEBT AND FORGIVENESS

Dear Editor,

This topic is doing rounds. Let me share some of the views I have shared in different settings before. 

I will not speak to how Zambia got into the current debt situation, how the debt was used or abused. Why so much debt accrued in a short time and why it didn’t pass through parliament at contraction. That will be a debate for another day. 

But I will say this that Zambia has a solid case to present for debt forgiveness. And it must use this as the only option to allow the new government to have a clean slate to start from in tackling the multitude of challenges facing the nation.

1. Africa has a debt problem. Much of the debt has gone into opening up Africa for trade (construction of new roads, rail, airports, sea ports, housing, hospitals, universities schools, etc). 

Follow me now. This trade is absolutely necessary for the world economies to thrive. The world needs Africa’s raw materials of minerals, oil, land, rivers, youthful population, agriculture produce, wood and many other goods that Africa has that interests the world. 

Why then should Africa be saddled disproportionately with all the costs of opening herself up to create this access to her must-accessed-riches and markets, something that is absolutely required by all and benefits everybody?

2. Africa has been hit by the pandemic the hardest. The economies have been turned upside down. Jobs lost. 

While the EU and other jurisdictions have suspended debt servicing and even had some debtscancelled, why should Africa not benefit from this collective global wisdom to the maximum that attempts to support the revival and rebounding of economies?

3. Africa does not have the luxury of time. It has lots of youths. They need empowerment, employment, wealth, health and sustainable growth that can only be assured through increased economic activities – debt serving, austerity measures will not support any meaningful economic activities to absorb and meet the demands of youths today.

As I see it, the new dawn administration has credibility and political capital with all well-wishers, those that gave us money and their partners. 

It must use it to advance debt forgiveness either individually or collectively as a region and speak with one voice to get debts forgiven.

This would be the sure way that will free up government so that it can focus on implementing an accelerated national development agenda that will meet the aspirations of the youths.

BRIAN MUSHIMBA,

Former Minister of Higher

 Education.

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