WYNTER Kabimba says the unattainable promises made by the UPND will haunt them now that they are in government.
Kabimba, an ex-justice minister under Michael Sata’s government, is the Rainbow Party general secretary.
He also argues that an International Monetary Fund programme is equivalent to handing over an economy to foreigners.
“The first enemy that the new dawn administration has, created by themselves, are the campaign promises they made to the Zambian people. That is what is going to haunt them throughout the term of office of this administration,” Kabimba said in an interview. “The campaign promises will haunt them because they are not achievable, in practice. What the new dawn administration has as campaign promises, in my view, are nothing but a dream.”
He said what UPND officials were promising, while in the opposition is a figment of their imagination as to how Zambia should be in an ideal situation.
“They will not translate into something meaningful on the ground. The backlash they are going to face will come from the people in challenging them on their campaign promises,” he said. “The Minister of Finance (Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane) says that the IMF package is going to resolve the economic problems that were created by PF. [But] nowhere in Africa has an IMF package resolved economic problems of a nation?”
Kabimba added that if anything, an IMF problem hurts the ordinary people – the poor – whom it is supposed to save.
“That’s the record of the IMF. And it’s not as if the IMF is coming to Zambia for the first time. It was here during the MMD administration,” he noted. “In fact, MMD had more goodwill in 1991, than the goodwill that we are seeing during this era of the new dawn administration. MMD had more goodwill from donors, citizens, the international community.”
Kabimba recalled that Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s administration withdrew from the IMF in 1988 but that the MMD administration: “rushed back to the IMF.”
“What happened was the dismantling of the whole parastatal sector, which was a major employer of the ordinary people. Poverty levels escalated under the IMF programme in MMD. Unemployment figures went up under that programme,” Kabimba explained. “There was a team of IMF ‘experts’ who were based at the Ministry of Finance in Lusaka. They were referred to as the Harvard boys. They actually had offices at the Ministry of Finance to try the help the MMD government to navigate the economy to something that would lead to prosperity.”
He continued, saying: “that’s why Sean Tembo argues, and rightly so, that an IMF programme means you hand over the management of your economy to foreigners i.e. to the IMF.”
“You are no longer in charge of your economy, and that’s what will happen. There is no way that the IMF programme is going to create employment, to reduce poverty because the austerity measures that come with those conditionalities are not intended to alleviate the suffering of the poor of any country,” he noted. “So, they have created their own enemy, under the circumstances.”
Kabimba pointed out that when one listens to Dr Musokotwane, they will hear that: “he is talking about creating employment, which they have promised to the youths, by way of bringing in foreign investors that will come and set up factories.”
“And it is those factories that are going to employ people, and hence solve the youth unemployment. [But] Zambia has a very small market, in terms of population. That in itself militates against major foreign investments,” Kabimba said.
“Why would somebody want to come and set-up a factory in Zambia to make $17 million if he sold his product to every Zambian at $1? Why would he want to set up that factory in Zambia, instead of setting it up in Tanzania which has 45 million people, South Africa which has 55 million, Kenya 48 to 50 million?”
He underscored that Zambia’s population, as a market, is not attractive to any investor who wants to make a profit.
“That’s why you see the Americans, even as they have differences with Chinese, they still can’t afford to do away with China with a population of 1.3 billion,” he said. “It’s a huge market! If you went and sold a pen to every Chinese at $1, you’ll make $1.3 billion and you walk away.”
About adding value to copper, as per Dr Musokotwane’s intimation on Sunday Interview, Kabimba said: “we have heard that song from MMD time.”
“It’s like the name Phiri in Eastern Province or Patel amongst the Indians, which you find across almost every family. We have that parlance from MMD – value addition. We have seen no technology that can translate into value addition in this country,” noted Kabimba.
“There is nothing new that I have heard from President Hakainde that I have not heard before. So, I’m not moved by words. I want to be moved by action. I bet my last dollar that the new dawn administration has planted its own ilomba (charm).”