Vatican News English Africa Service - Vatican City
JCTR says it is deeply concerned with the rapidly weakening economy in Zambia now threatening the economic and social survival of ordinary citizens, especially the poor, the marginalised and the vulnerable. Speaking on the occasion of Zambia's 56th Independence Day commemoration, recently, Jesuit priest, Fr. Alex Muyebe who is JCTR Executive Director, said the government needs to be more transparent about the debt crisis.
Zambia's debt now equivalent to its GDP
"The irony is that as we celebrate our country's Independence Day, we cannot but lament the current shrinking fiscal space in Zambia. Zambia's total external debt stock now stands at 27 billion dollars, which, literally is equivalent to the country's GDP," said the JCTR Executive Director. He advised the Zambian Government to put in place a transparent debt contraction mechanism and to stop further borrowing.
Fr. Muyebe said, "This is not the first time Zambia has found herself in a debt crisis. The 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. Adding, "Government must put in place a transparent debt contraction mechanism and a robust and workable debt management and debt sustainability strategy."
JCTR observes that from the 2021 national budget, it is evident that funds allocated to the social sector had decreased significantly, thereby affecting the ordinary person's access to health, education, clean water and sanitation.
Political observers say the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened Zambia's debt situation.
Growing political violence and intolerance
Another factor worrying JCTR concerns the increase in political violence and prevalent intolerance of divergent political opinion in Zambia.
"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. The Centre implores government to take the lead in sensitising citizens to reject all forms of violence in our society," said Fr. Muyebe.