Recent calls from members of the opposition criticising the government of President Edgar Lungu and calling for the intervention of a bailout package by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has prompted a response from Mbita Chitala, the chairman of ZESCO.
Writing on his Facebook page, Mr. Chitala argued the following:
The prescription suggested by those colleagues that our government adopts a humiliating IMF programme when we know that such a scheme would bring untold suffering, instability and worsen the poverty in our country is not smart at all.
The neo liberal Washington Consensus is dead. Such a humiliating programme would mean surrendering our governance to Washington technocrats, reducing public investment in health and education, stopping deficit financing to tackle any recession, place our trade unions to be at war with the state as we reduce the wage bill, freeze wages and salaries, eliminate subsidies to our small farmers FISP, petroleum, electricity, education etc which will tend to increase poverty and cost of living, abandon most capital expenditure such as construction of roads, schools, clinics and public goods such as Kafue Lower Power etc, further selling off to foreigners of our strategic companies and institutions such as NAPSA, ZESCO etc that will result in more unemployment and underemployment, reducing recurrent budget spending on goods and services that will mean weakening the state and making it vulnerable, devaluation of the Kwacha and increasing costs in our economy.
All these negative social outcomes will lead to people rage as Africa and other developing countries witness in the 80 and 90s leading into state instability and downfall of governments.
There is a solution to all this. We need to have our own developmental state as the Eastern Asian dragons and China have demonstrated.
We can still go to International capital markets or bilateral partners to contract long term debt. There is nothing wrong with this.
More importantly we should have our own middle class on which our development will be anchored. We must have our own cobalt and copper mines owned by Zambians.
We must rejuvenate our manufacturing and agro business. We must stop capital flight and introduce smart capital controls.
We must create employment creating programmes such as the national service, small enterprise promotion, local banks etc.
We have largely not been successful so far because we failed to be patriotic, never provided incentives for our people to save, invest and innovate and so we are poor because our leaders so far have made this choice.