Fellow Countrymen and women
The other day I mentioned that while the current economic challenges such as the falling Kwacha could be attributed in part to global economic trends, the main problem is largely our own creation and the result of both incompetence and lack of economic planning.
We have stated before that it is pure laziness, lack of planning and sheer incompetence to always be quick to look for excuses for problems the country is facing so that we do nothing in offering even what resembles like a strategy or mitigation measures on how the current economic problems can be resolved.
A true leader does not blame the problems on circumstances, but anticipates and finds way to deal with circumstances. That’s why they call it leadership!
True leadership is being able to appreciate that the environment will always be changing and a good manager must respond to the environment internal or external. These are basic things that are learnt in business and economic schools, and one doesn’t need to go Harvard University to know this because even our own University of Zambia, Copperbelt University and other local institutions teach these things.
We in the UPND insist that the current economic turmoil is largely self-inflicted. Government has failed to protect and strengthen the economy through such measures as diversification and stimulating the growth of value add industries. Instead they have weakened the Zambian economy and left it vulnerable to outside forces.
We all know that the Zambian currency has been losing value since the PF took over government in 2011, way before the so-called current global economic challenges. In 2011 the currency was trading at 4.95 to a dollar, today approaching 10 kwacha to a dollar. What we are seeing today is a result of bad economic management.
We warned a long time ago that we needed systematic planning of the projects taking into account the economic fundamentals rather than political, to prevent the current turmoil and the repetition of a situation we have seen before where Zambia has a huge budget deficit.
Honestly, what is global about Zambia’s collapsing economy due to continued PF induced by-elections that have so far gobbled huge amounts of money purely for their greediness to have numbers in parliament?
What is global when we go to the open market and continuously keep borrowing at high interest rates, invest money in non-productive sectors, and later these loans become due and we start paying back in US dollars, hence create a further scarcity in the foreign currency leading to the falling Kwacha?
What is global if the PF cannot prioritize national expenditures and cut down on unnecessary government costs to match the level of reduced economic activity in the country?
What is global about the unnecessary and useless trips by the president and his ministers with large and unnecessary entourage all costing a poor country a fortune?
What is global when a poor country like Zambia decides to spend on a large cabinet with lots of incentives such as allowances, expensive motor vehicles with high maintenance costs, free fuel, etc?
And even as they are wasting money on travels, to date we have never heard any tangible results from any of the many trips in form of being able to attract tangible investment in various sectors that can be doing value addition and create exports so that we earn foreign exchange and create local jobs for our youths.
So what’s global about failing to create a conducive economic environment and confidence in the country and attract foreign direct investment?
What is global if the country, through incompetence and corruption, decides to waste huge amounts of resources in US dollars procuring contaminated crude oil that damages Indeni Refinery and people’s motor vehicles?
What is global when a country decides to cut electricity power supply even to the critical sectors such as the mining industry and the few manufacturing sectors which are the backbone of the Zambian economy in terms of generating foreign exchange that strengthens the Kwacha and avoid job current losses?
What is global when a Head of State at such a critical period decides to be taking golf lessons whilst the national currency is on free fall, local industry crippled by ad-hoc power rationing and real unemployment well above any meaningful statistical data, plus job losses?
If I were in their position, I would be reluctant spending time taking golf lessons but would immediately leave the golf course and probably get a bit of US$1.25billion Eurobond money and invest it in solar energy, even through Public Private Partnerships (PPP).
By now I would be spending sleepless nights finding solutions to the current power cuts through creation of solar energy farms that would generate power to supplement our hydro electric.
Countries such as the United Kingdom and others do not experience as much sunshine as in Zambia, but they are doing solar energy farming which is supplementing other energy sources.
For the CEO of our country to keep giving excuses on everything instead of solutions is pure laziness and incompetence that deserves an instant dismissal by the Zambian employers.
We should understand that there will always be some global economic trends which we can also take advantage of with a focused leadership.
Currently, the oil prices on the world market have fallen sharply, so why not take advantage of this global trend by reducing the fuel price which we all know is the engine of economic production, especially now that most citizens, small businesses, and industries are relying on generators for them to operate to some level?
We have always been consistent on the need to diversify our economy to other sectors such as agriculture, tourism and also on the need to expand the manufacturing sectors and make our goods competitive on the world market in order to salvage the ailing economy through non-traditional exports.
Its time President Lungu gave way for a serious leadership.