By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
An international human rights organisation leader claims that most Sub-Saharan African governments are assuming debts to buy weapons to suppress citizens who in turn are made to repay the debts .
Amnesty International regional director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena was presenting at a ‘High Level Debt Conference’ organised by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development(Zimcodd) recently.
In his remarks, Muchena said most Sub-Saharan African states including Zimbabwe accrue debts to either fund their ruling parties or oppress citizens.
“Governments assume debt for, at best, to satisfy the consumerist impulses of the ruling party, or at worst, to fund the AK47s and other weapons which enable the regime to oppress their citizens,” stated the Amnesty International regional director for Southern Africa.
He bemoaned the injustice that comes from making citizens pay for ‘odious debts’.
“To oppress a person is one thing – but to also make that person pay back the debt which made the oppressive weapon affordable takes the injustice to a whole different level.
“Out of no choice of their own individuals are being penalised for being oppressed– those limited finances that could be spent on education or healthcare, are frittered away on the repayment of debt which financed their oppression,” cited Muchena.
Meanwhile, in the wake of debts , revered women’s rights activist Nancy Kachingwe believes solutions to debt crises by most governments impact negatively on women.
‘Solutions to debt crises across the board are exacerbating the problem for example ESAP or austerity and cuts to social services shifts the burden to women,” argues Kachingwe.
She also implored local civic society organisations to play a leading role in ensuring debt money is channelled towards improving social services.
“Civil society should make a stronger case for where the debt cancellation/relief money should go – priority should be to fix our broken social system,” added Nancy Kachingwe.
But Zimcodd director Janet Zhou accuses government of alienating the civil society in its debt negotiation and restructuring.
“ZIMCODD acknowledges Government efforts on debt resolution to date
“However, the process has been limited to government and creditor countries/institutions while civil society and parliament and are mere spectators,” said Zhou.
Zimcodd described the Zim government’s Vision 2030 as futile if there is not a Sustainable and Inclusive Debt Management Framework(SIDMaF).
“The Government’s ambitious Vision 2030 will remain a fallacy unless the debt issue is resolved through a holistic SIDMaF,” remarked Zimcodd.
Zimbabwe is not alone in the debt management puzzle but there is Mozambique which was plunged into a financial crisis in 2016 after the government owned up to $1.4bn of previously undisclosed loans for a maritime-security and tuna-fishing project. Since early 2017,Mozambique has been in default and has been seeking to restructure the debt.