Debt Detective at it again in Zambia – Pat Rumer

April 16, 2010 at 7:34 am Leave a comment

Debt Detective at it again in Zambia

By Pat Rumer, Jubilee Debt Detective

Pat Zambia

“LET’S FINISH THE WORK!”  Is the Jubilee Zambia campaign to focus the government and public attention on implementation of debt cancellation goals.  This is Pat Rumer, Debt Detective reporting from Lusaka, Zambia. I have spent this past week talking with people from churches, women’s organizations, an AIDS hospice and the World Bank.   So what I have learned?

Certainly, the good news is that there have been benefits in education and health and even some in infrastructure (roads, water, etc) – most of these benefits came in the first year after the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (2005). But since then there has been a lack of progress to fully implement the promises made by the government at the time of the debt cancellation.  Part of that is due to the death of President Patrick Mwanawasa in died in late 2008.   The United Church of Zambia General Secretary Rev. Chrispin Mbalazi observed that “we were too trusting that the government would deliver on its promises and we did not have a strategy to work with the international community on post-debt cancellation implementation.”

That is why Jubilee Zambia began its campaign of “let’s finish the work” in 2008 on World Debt Day to educate and mobilize the grassroots to keep pressure on Members of Parliament and the government to redirect resources to social services to the poorest in Zambia. 

The other foci of the campaign are:  development of a debt management policy, advocacy training with churches and regional Jubilee groups, and continuing monitoring of government expenditures.  As Humphrey, Jubilee Zambia staff person said, “it was a lot easier with a single focus – debt cancellation – to organize and mobilize people. “   The Let’s Finish the Work campaign wants to raise awareness of the “off-shoots” of debt cancellation – the need for more  transparency and accountability by the government as well as greater involvement by the Parliament in oversight of new loan negotiations.

Activist Emily Sikazwe, director of the Zambian NGO Women for Change, said that the greatest contribution of the debt debate is the heightened awareness by ordinary Zambians of the neDebtdetectivelogoed to “monitor new debt and to make debt contraction more transparent and to fight corruption.”  Jubilee Zambia’s success with full participation of the global movement showed how important a strong civil society is.   The civil society (NGO’s and churches) are now the watch dogs of government action.  These two groups continue to advocate for services to the poor and work with some Members of Parliament who are deeply committed to this goal.  

In the 2010 budget there are allocations for hiring 2500 new teachers and building more rural health clinics.  However, the civil society will monitor this commitment to see if it is implemented.
For Jubilee USA activists their experiences echo ours – as American citizens we must advocate for justice and then monitor the results – as the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.”  It is good to be partners with Jubilee Zambia and the very committed church and NGO members who are active in this campaign.

As Jubilee USA works to pass the Jubilee Act in the coming months, let’s adopt our partner’s campaign slogan – Let’s finish the work!

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