THE Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) says it is deeply concerned with the rapidly weakening economy in the country.
The Catholic Church run organisation says the situation is jeopardising the economic and social justice of the ordinary citizens, especially the poor, the marginalised and the vulnerable.
JCTR joined the rest of the country in commemorating the 56th Anniversary of Independence, which took place on Saturday.
Executive director Alex Muyebe said the Centre upheld in high esteem the role that the nation’s forefathers and mothers played in attaining independence for the country.
“However, the Centre wishes to raise pertinent issues in relation to independence and freedom with respect to economic and social justice informed by human rights and moral imperatives. We owe a moral responsibility to the next generations to pass onto them a viable and enabling environment characterised by economic emancipation through self-sustainability and reliance,” he said.
“Over the last 56 years of independence, Zambia has enjoyed the long-earned reputation of peace on the continent and beyond. However, JCTR is concerned with the rate of political violence threatening this long-earned reputation.”
Fr Muyebe implored the government to take a lead in sensitising its citizens to reject all forms of violence in the society.
“JCTR is also deeply concerned with the rapidly weakening economy in our country which is jeopardising the economic and social justice of the ordinary citizens, especially the poor, the marginalised and the vulnerable. The irony is that as we celebrate our country’s independence today, we cannot but lament the current shrinking fiscal space in Zambia,” Fr Muyebe said.
He bemoaned the country’s current debt stock, which he said was equivalent to the country’s gross domestic product.
He wondered how the national debt stock has increased from US$11.97 billion in June this year to US$27 billion in October.
“Further, the fiscal deficit, the inflation rate and the depreciation of the currency are on the rise. This is not the first time Zambia has found herself in a debt crisis. Government must learn from these experiences and come up with a lasting solution to avoid finding ourselves in this same bad place over and over again. Government must pursue fiscal consolidation and stop further borrowing,” he said. “Further, government must put in place a transparent debt contraction mechanism and a robust and workable debt management and debt sustainability strategy. From the 2021 national budget, it is evident that funds allocated to the social sector have shrunk significantly thereby affecting the ordinary person’s access to health, education, clean water and sanitation.”
He said this would further compromise human development and undermine promotion of human dignity and attainment of the common good.
“Additionally, JCTR calls for adoption of transformative and servant leadership model at all levels of governance in our society. As we celebrate 56 years of independence, the maturity of our independence and democracy will be measured by the degree of our leaders’ willingness to drive a common good agenda rather than a self-enrichment agenda,” said Fr Muyebe. “All the wealth and resources divinely endowed on Zambia is meant for the benefit and the welfare of all the Zambian people without any discrimination. Happy Independence Day and may God continue to bless Zambia.”