ANTHONY MUKWITA, Berlin
WHEN I read that President Edgar Lungu’s government has decided to reward all government workers with long-term cheap loans through the state-owned Public Service Micro Finance Company (PSMFC), I was elated due to a combination of factors. As a diplomat, the Western world I work from is “positively distinguishable” regarding development for one major reason, among many factors—cheap long-term financing for companies and citizens. Sometimes the financing here comes at zero rate as opposed to our financing in local commercial banks in Zambia that tip the scale at between 27 percent and 30 percent, which is not attractive for any individual or Zambian company looking for seed money. This is the reason that inspired me to pen this essay and commend President Lungu and PSMFC chief executive Mubanga Mwiko for coming up with cheaper financing to empower public workers seeking to engage in various projects while they remain youthful and in long-term employment. What the ´unsung economic development heroes´ in the name of PSMFC are doing, giving out loans at ´a generous´ five percent repayment rate over a period five years, is ´every public worker’s dream come true´. Mr Mwiko’s company also seems to be on top of its game having declared a huge profit of K13 million for the year 2020 and having a state-of-the-art headquarters in Lusaka valued at more than K20 million. This is the kind of good songs written around President Lungu’s leadership that are rarely sung out loud but nevertheless pretty important in terms of leadership and economic development credentials. Public workers can now do the following with these soft loans:
• Build modest but decent houses for a rainy day when they are no longer able to work and avoid paying rent. • They can start rearing chickens, goats or other livestock because they can borrow and pay back in five years, thanks to President Lungu. They can engage in farming maize commercially, tomatoes and other crops that have in the recent past been imported and we can henceforth create a food-secure and rich nation. If you have borrowed money in Zambia from a commercial bank with 30 percent repayment rates monthly, you know that not taking advantage of or not utilising the Edgar Lungu PSMFC is like looking a Gift Horse in the mouth. It is developments such as the above under President Lungu that have given public workers integrity and the dignity they deserve as compared to the days government workers remained yoked in private “Kaloba” debt from evil shylocks. As a diplomat I have seen first-hand how cheap long-term financing can help develop a country as it has done here in the West. I would end by saying mazel tov on the story for letting us know about the country’s best kept secret that can unlock our economic potential to higher heights. This is what is often referred to as ‘walking the walk and talking the talk’, including making the public service a more attractive sector to work in as benefits abound. The author is the Ambassador of Zambia to Germany.