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PF and debt swap culpability

VICE-PRESIDENT Mutale Nalumango says the PF administration is culpable for failing civil servants.

During the Vice-President’s Question Time in Parliament on Friday, Shiwang’andu PF member of parliament Stephen Kampyongo, a former home affairs minister, asked if the government had suspended the debt swap in order to favour some financial institutions.

The programme was introduced by the PF government a few weeks before the August 12 presidential and general elections, which it lost.

Kampyongo also wanted to know if the government still cared for civil servants.

“Debt swap is just as it is said. Civil servants who were owed money by government through settling [in] allowances, leave days, some of whom went to contract extra debt from financial institutions such as Bayport and Madison Finance…” said Kampyongo. “Is [it] the interest of your government, Madam Vice-President, to protect those financial institutions that were charging our civil servants high [interest] rates, and we know that some of your government members have got interest in some of these institutions? Or are you going to save these overburdened civil servants so that they can have some breathing space?”

In response, Vice-President Nalumango said, “We are extremely interested [in the welfare of civil servants] and we care for them. However, the debt swap has many angels to it. That if we look at it seriously, we may find that the former government was culpable of failing the workers.”

Vice-President Nalumango explained further that the previous government was not remitting money it was deducting from civil servants on behalf of financial institutions, hence the indebtedness of workers.

“Some of the debt swap, like the honourable member has said, was negotiated for three years. The debt that the civil servants are seemingly indebted with is due to the failure of the same government that wanted to pretend to care for them,” she explained as Kampyongo smiled while blushing. “By their failure to remit that which was deducted from the workers…Government was a third party in this matter that they were supposed to remit what was deducted from the workers. Now, because in many cases it may not be 100 per cent, the honourable may agree with me, they may have found themselves with high interest rates accumulated over time because of the failure to remit. Why then should the worker even be in the picture? Indebtedness is due to them already.”

We had warned civil servants about the premature euphoria over debt swap. Towards the polls, sensing the impending defeat, the PF regime dangled very mischievous carrots to civil servants and some miners on the Copperbelt. Edgar Lungu’s regime created an array of populist measures which were not backed by budgetary allocations per se – they could not be sustained beyond August 12. They were merely pursued as an incentive for the vote, which eluded them anyway!

As Vladimir Putin once noted, “Political populism always poses a great danger because it disorients people, creates excessive expectations or, on the contrary, prioritises objectives that are clearly not priorities or are simply impossible to achieve.”

PF never cared about legality and the long term well-being of our public workers and citizens in general. It carried out or pursued policies and programmes that were seen and largely aimed at self-preservation.

But George Papandreou warned that, “Countries are not like financial markets. Social change cannot be executed as swiftly as credit-default swaps. You cannot sell short on social commitments and practical responsibilities.”

It is strange that now that PF are in the opposition, they’re without shame aiming their obsolete guns at the new government over the former regime’s maladministration and deception.

It is said that, “A lot of people don’t like to admit they’re wrong because they are either too prideful or stuck in their own beliefs. But sometimes the best thing you can do is admit you’re wrong. How do you expect to learn more or see in a new perspective if you always ‘think’ you’re right? Learn to let go of your ego and approach life with an open mind.”

The UPND must equally learn from the PF as they execute their mandate! Today it is the PF licking their wounds – tomorrow it can be yourselves. You’re forewarned!

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