ZAMBIA’S economy is in a buoyant state, and phenomenal growth continues to be recorded across the entire length and breadth of our country in a manner never witnessed before.
This optimistic outlook has elicited positive comments from many objective and impartial observers both within and beyond our country’s borders.
Against this backdrop, we find it curious that there should be a crusade by some people to besmirch the character and integrity of the chief steward of the national economy, namely Mr Alexander Bwalya Chikwanda, the Minister of Finance, who has a proven track record of success both as a businessman and a politician.
He is a patriot and nationalist who has served the nation with honour and integrity in various portfolios.
We believe he has been unfairly targeted by political rivals because of the perceived influence he currently enjoys in the ruling Patriotic Front government.
Those jostling for vantage positions in the party should try as much as possible to advance their respective political ambitions without recourse to crudity in their political campaigns.
If it were any other ordinary person being vilified in this manner, we would not have dignified the malicious attacks with a response. We felt compelled to do so because of the position which Mr Chikwanda occupies, which entails a lot of interaction with the international community and their representatives, both at home and abroad.
He has built his integrity over a long period of public service spanning several decades, and his performance has never been found wanting. We are not aware of any blemish on his character as any dent on a public figure inevitably ends up in the public domain.
The integrity of the Finance Minister should not be assailed unfairly, without any proper or well-founded case against him, as that could have serious ramifications on the economy. The ongoing attacks smack of malice and petty jealousy.
The ostensible aim of these attacks, and the lobby to unseat him, is to malign his integrity and dupe gullible individuals into believing that he is guilty of impropriety.
It is not a secret that the attacks emanate from a cabal of individuals who have never said anything complementary about him since his appointment as Finance Minister. Mr Chikwanda is a seasoned politician and businessman with the requisite technical expertise and experience to push our nation’s economic agenda in a positive direction, and our objective assessment thus far is that his performance has exceeded expectations of many, including his detractors.
The Patriotic Front government’s development agenda is being driven primarily by the visionary leadership of President Michael Sata, but he needs his key allies who are the chief architects of the process of rolling out the various development projects.
One of the key members of President Sata’s Cabinet is the Minister of Finance. This portfolio is critical not only in Zambia’s government, but in any political set-up the world over. The job holder is, invariably, the President’s trusted confidante or lieutenant who also shares the vision of the President.
The Link Zambia 8000, which has opened up far-flung rural outposts, and promises to accelerate the concomitant development that will stem from the emerging road infrastructure that has changed the country’s landscape, would not have been possible without prudent management of the nation’s resources.
It would also have been nigh impossible to achieve the level of massive investment that has gone into the education and health sectors that are rapidly being transformed and modernised without a corresponding measure of prudence in the management of the national economy.
The agricultural sector is also growing by leaps and bounds, and the once moribund Zambia Railways is also up and running following a huge investment into the sector of US$120 million.
The decision to raise funds from the international capital market through the sovereign bonds, initially US$750 million, followed by the US$1 billion sovereign bond, is testimony of the desired pragmatism which our country needs in order to drive the country’s development agenda.
It is regrettable that some people continue to exhibit a dangerous propensity of sowing seeds of morbid hatred against their perceived political rivals. We should not, as a nation, continue to dissipate precious energies on futile political scheming, fanning unnecessary antagonism and generating malicious propaganda to denigrate the standing of perceived rivals, real or imagined. OPINION