ACKSON Sejani says the arrogance of President Edgar Lungu and his PF government is irritating. And Sejani has advised Zambians to take elections at any given time seriously because they have consequences. He said the PF government was not behaving in a manner fit for a regime leading a country in a crisis. He said they had over borrowed and that money was not appropriately invested.
“They have gone towards consumption instead of investing that money in productive ventures, things that were going to help them pay back that money,” Sejani said.
“We are also not seeing a government that is conscious of the problems at hand. And therefore, they are behaving in a very strange manner. It’s like everything is Ok, business as usual. Comments by Fred M’membe, that we are in a gigantic crisis, are in order. He is generally bringing out many things citizens have been worried of, things other opposition figures have complained about. They have given this advice for some time now. But it’s like this advice is falling on deaf ears. Some of these people like HH have been labelled as bitter for suggesting to this government that they must borrow responsibly. We are in very very big problem as a country because those who are in charge of governing us are not aware that we have a problem. All we are seeing is arrogance on their part. According to Lungu, suggesting that we have a crisis, to him we are lying, it’s an irritating lie. I put it to him that what is irritating is their arrogance. The way Zambians have been punished because of what they have done, that is what is irritating.”
And reacting to the President’s hosting of ex-convict and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, Sejani said Zambians should take note of friends of President Lungu and try to see if they were of any help to the country.
“It must raise some questions. What was the mission? What is Olmert’s mission?” he asked.
“One of the problems we have with this government is this lack of transparency in its dealings. It’s involved in activities and dealings that are less than transparent to the Zambian people. And when people query the motives of what their government is doing, their first act is to deny. They deny everything else until it comes out in open that’s when they say, yes this thing is in existence. So really, we should take note of friends of Edgar Lungu and try to see if they are of any help to this country.”
Sejani recalled that a few months ago President Lungu was asking Turkish President Erdogan, whose economy is also in problems, to help pay Zambia’s debt.
“Now we have this Israel former prime minister at a time we are asking what is happening, what are we acquiring from Israel, what are these planes for? Are we fighting any conventional war for us to acquire these jets?” he asked. “I thought that our biggest fight now is to fight poverty. But I’m sure that Edgar Lungu is not seeing that we are supposed to be fighting poverty. I think that he has other imaginary wars to fight that’s why he’s bringing all these aeroplanes. So we need transparency from this government, we need transparency from Edgar Lungu. Who are these friends, what are they here for?”
Sejani said Zambians now really start to look at elections seriously.
“Elections have consequences. We are now suffering consequences of what we did in 2016,” he said.
“You know many of our compatriots were swallowed up by the euphoria, the drinks, the food, to the point that they were not serious when they went to the polling booth to elect this bunch of politicians and now we are suffering the consequences. My advice to this country is that we must take elections seriously at any given time because they do have consequences.”
Sejani said councils were collapsing because they were not getting money from the central government.
He said councils are institutions that were supposed to provide goods and services to ordinary people.
“Our education sector is collapsing because we don’t have resources, why, because most of the resources are going towards debt repayment. Our agricultural and health sectors are suffering because resources are going towards debt repayment,” he said. “Rural development remains a pipe dream. I took note that [Socialist Party 2021 presidential candidate] Fred M’membe was talking about the levels of poverty in our various provinces. Successive governments have paid lip service to rural development in this country. The total national budget allocation or expenditure directed to rural development is less than five per cent. And you cannot develop rural areas like that. Projects we see being undertaken in our districts are projects that are approved in Lusaka. Everything is centralised. Here we are just told somebody is coming there to build a dam, somebody is coming there to do a report. But who knows what they need most, is it not the local people? What has happened to decentralisation in this country? Why is everything being done in Lusaka?”
He called for a constitutional amendment to compel government to allocate a substantial percentage of public resources to rural areas rather than the current five per cent.
“But that is not going to happen under this government because every day its capacity to disburse funds is getting reduced. We have to fight, we have to find resources to pay back the huge debt and we are failing every day.
So we have a problem,” Sejani said.
“We are moving towards a situation where, we are going to lose assets as a country, we are going to lose land, we are going to lose our sovereignty, because of this reckless government. Why can’t we subject ourselves to the IMF, which is a disciplined source of funding? Why? Because they know that they cannot run a disciplined government. They’re plunderers. That’s why they are avoiding disciplined sources of loans. They are going to the Chinese because the Chinese are not demanding anything. They will give you whatever you want because there’s a trap ahead of you. Zambians must wake up. We’re going towards a very dangerous situation which we will never recover from. Zambians take elections seriously, they have consequences.”
He said the consequences of the crisis on the Zambians, the increased taxes, the increased prices of commodities, was the real irritant.
“It’s unfortunate that we have a President who is not seeing that we have a problem at hand. How do we solve it if somebody does not believe that we have a problem?” wondered Sejani.
“Even if we mobilise to help, that mobilisation must be led by somebody. But this government is not in a position to mobilise anybody at all. It lacks credibility, it’s no longer inspiring to anybody, whatever the government suggests now, I don’t know how the Zambians would take it because they have been passed as irresponsible and arrogant bunch of leaders. Unless we, as citizens do it on our own, minus the government. That’s what I fear. Our capacity to pay back is reducing every day because we have been borrowing to consume. So we have no capacity whatsoever to pay back.”