Sunday, June 16, 2024

When Statistics Lie: The Indefensible Case of Inflation and Poverty

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By Dr Canisius BANDA Development Activist

He was livid with anger.

‘To hell with the CSO!’ He shouted, his eyes widening, his facial veins bulging, both full of rage, spittle drooling from the corners of his mouth. He was referring to Zambia’s Central Statiscal Office [CSO].

‘Why?’ Innocently, I asked.

‘I feel the pain, doc. Prices are high. Vavuta vinthu. The cost of living is killing us. And these traitors are waxing lyrical about hitting single-digit inflation! What nonsense is this?’

Having been a key part of the UPND in the past, Hakainde HICHILEMA’s own vice president, I dropped my face in shame. A tear rolled down his face: ‘I can’t eat, doc. My GOtv is closed. I have defaulted on my rent for three months now. My family is falling apart, doc. Nibwanji so? Things are bad. Nilibe pogwila.’

CSO. To me, when he said those words, it sounded like he was saying Compromised Silly Office. I didn’t smile. I felt the man, empathy became me. It is not every day that a grown man cries. Kulila so munthu! I was touched. To hell with the CSO, he had said. I was certain that indeed, if the CSO with its single-digit inflation had gone to hell, they would find a lot of Zambians there, prematurely dead from the cost of living, gnashing their teeth, suffering and all. You see, we all understand economics. Knowledge is not a monopoly of the UPND.

Clearly, something ain’t kosher with the CSO statistics, something isn’t right. There is something fishy going on there. Zambians are in pain. Zambians are hurting. Zambians are disillusioned. Zambians are enraged. Cause? The cost of living, and they feel conned.

The cost of living in Zambia has skyrocketed. It is so high that it is costing lives. A textbook definition of inflation states as follows: ‘Inflation occurs when prices rise across the economy, decreasing the purchasing power of your money.’ In Zambia today, businesses are not doing well. Buyers are few, business is slow. The sell-rate of their goods and services has critically fallen. Their profit margins have contracted.

And to break even, a number of these companies are now laying off their workers. Hakainde HICHILEMA promised to create jobs. But the converse is happening. Clearly, Hakainde HICHILEMA’s trickle-down economics just isn’t working. Usually, such formulae for a people’s wellbeing, ceteris paribus, takes years, which time Hakainde HICHILEMA doesn’t have.

In Zambia today, salaries have remained stagnant in the midst of a depreciated, weak Kwacha. Imports remain expensive. Credit in the economy is low. Prices have risen. The cost of production continues to rise. And the purchasing power of citizens has severely been eroded.

This then is inflation, dear pilgrim. Tell the CSO about it. Confused Statiscal Office indeed. Take mealie meal, a key determinant for holding presidential power in Zambia. In August 2021, a 25kg bag of mealie meal was at about K120. Today, 1 July 2022, it is well over K170. You see, from then todate, its price has been inflated by over 29 percent.
And never will it ever fetch K50 as promised. NEVER. Perhaps when rotten.

With stagnant salaries, as Hakainde HICHILEMA himself lamented and observed prior to the August 2021 elections, what this means is that the power of a Zambian’s money, with reference to mealie meal alone, has reduced by over 29 percent. Meaning to purchase the same quantity of goods you now need more money than before.

This then, CSO, is inflation.

Very soon, Zambia will become the first country in the world, in the midst of a ‘falling’ inflation rate, to see citizens, fueled by anger and the need to survive, take to the streets to protest a stifling high cost of living. Indeed, it is easy to run FOR office by it is NOT easy to run the office.

‘Doctor, these people are liars. The opposite of what they promised is what is happening!’ Another citizen, complained, poverty about him all too evident. I wanted to tell him that God is in control, that He allowed all this to happen for a purpose, that another new dawn, a better one is coming, but I just kept quiet. Me and my modesty.

Instead, I said to him that for as long as the economy of Zambia remains in foreign hands, for as long as we the Africans abandon LUMUMBA ROAD, the path to freedom and self-determination, the path to political and economic sovereignty, Zambians will remain poor, suffering and pain will never end.

I said with utter conviction.

Impressed with my response, he said: ‘But why are you not in government, doctor? We need minds like yours there.’There is time for everything, I replied, advising him to read Ecclessiastes 9: 11 for further guidance. Situmbeko MUSOKOTWANE, Zambia’s finance minister says there is a Plan B for the nation’s economic recovery if the IMF route fails. What he conveniently chooses to ignore is that the IMF route has failed for many years in many countries. Zambia’s own route, focusing on the judicious exploitation of its own human and material resources, can never fail. Perhaps this Plan B, assuming it is citizen-centred, should have been Plan A.

See now?

Hakainde HICHILEMA has done better than Afcons Construction to decongest Lusaka. What a trick this one! No need for road infrastructure expansion, you see. Just hike the price of fuel and all vehicles are parked! Voila!

But it is not just the price of fuel that Hakainde HICHILEMA has hiked. He has also hiked the anger of citizens. It is becoming uncontainable. Citizens are now calling him names. Others, a tad early, have already started to say that he is a failure. And many, like the cars that now aren’t moving, the cars he has now caused to park, are now calling for him to park as well.They do not want to hear his name anymore. They are saying: ‘Uyu munthu nichani so? Ma years yayendeko fast!’

FIXED, the citizens are now annoyed and sad. This then is sad and shameful tale of the FIXER. One promise I will make and keep is this one. Hakainde HICHILEMA’s reign will be a very difficult one for him, it will be one replete with pain, suffering and disillusionment for the citizens, one which no one will forget. Calculations and tabulations failed on fuel reduction. Calculations and tabulations seem to be failing on budget management and inflation.

For now, buckle up, fellow citizens. A very bumpy and stormy ride lies ahead. Compromised Silly Office indeed. Single-digit inflation, my foot! Use a Happiness Index instead. It is a more reliable indicator of a leader’s hold on power. Impressive statistics that do not translate into people’s comfort and improved livelihoods are utterly meaningless. How people feel at any given time is by far more important than any digit.

Now all citizens’ digits are angrily and disapprovingly pointing at Hakainde HICHILEMA. FIXED.

23 COMMENTS

  1. Even when he was in opposition, I could tell he was a fraud. People were duped by his so called business acumen, they thought that would briskly transform the economy and suddenly it would be paradise but right now hell is beckoning. His energies are on political persecution in the name of corruption fight, using it to deflect attention and painting a picture he is working hard.

    2026 ulepyamo, with or without strong opposition.

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  2. I was also supprised to hear about single digit when things are bad,this cant be even a lay man can tell.Single digits and fuel is going up were on earth surely.The entire SCO must be fared and sent to prison for lying to the nation.Doc well articulated story keep it up,well analysed.

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  3. I feel your pain Doc. From Vice President to rental arrears and also defaulting on food shopping is sad. You spent all that money PF paid you for campaigning it seems. Maybe you thought by this time you would be in a foreign land as ambassador….kikiki. Instead Doc, you should be advising the youths to invest/save the very little money they make and not drink alcohol. The Bars will still be full even when inflation is high or low.

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  4. Inflation rate does not mean prices are dropping. It’s about the rate at which prices are going up. The prices are going up but it at the rate they did when your government was in power. It takes significant discipline to the align the economy by lowering the rate of inflation, stabilizing the exchange rate albeit still higher than when MMD ruled.

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  5. Some positives though, the Dr’ children don’t have to pay to stay in school from grade one to twelve. They can also go to college through grants using CDF. That’s one headache sorted by HH. If they Doc wants to do a chicken run business, he can apply for a loan through increased CDF. This CDF must be God sent. HH has given you a starter, go for it, hustle. During PF rule you had to be a cadre or musician to access grants.

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  6. “………Impressed with my response, he said: ‘But why are you not in government, doctor?…….”

    Must be an equally ignorant person like you……..

    The cost of living is sky-high in every country , not only zambia is affected by world events and covid aftermath

  7. When we announced that the conman is in town praise singers were too overwhelmed to grasp the concept. They will need to travel all the way to the end of the road to understand that they in fact got a lift into the conman’s car. Such is the collective intelligence of most Africans that earns them the title of, “third world”. Most business men who have stolen wealthy are mistakenly assumed to be able to impact the same wealth to the public office, this is a fallacy that does not translate into anything worthy talking about. Just open your eyes and see, America, South Africa even slopy Zambia etc Nothing.

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  8. So what is the clear forward guidance on inflation and interest rates in spending and directing Investments and productivity including cost of living adjustment local apart from the rise arising in rates from Ukraine supply disruptions

    This needs to be made clear

  9. This one is a lost soul…. Lungu’s brown envelopes are no longer coming …. What a “doctor”

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  10. What surprises me about such chaps like Canisius BANDA is that he is writing in past tense when he was Veep in opposition fighting Ruling Party then PF …the man has no self reflection because he later joined PF. This man wanted to spoonfed by HH7 all his bills and rentals paid for him in order for him to opposition party Veep, he brought nothing but noise to the table.

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  11. Very wise man. I enjoy reading such articles from intellectuals. He was wise to leave upnd. He will never lead in upnd because they said only a t0nga can lead them.

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  12. Zambians and their love of SUVs eh! You take away their ability to drive and they will be up in arms! I for one, am glad most SUVs are now parked; we need to use less fuel guzzling vehicles. But this is besides the point! Part of the disappointment in
    Mr Hichilema seems to stem from realising that a rich guy being at the helm doesn’t necessarily translate into you sharing his personal wealth. People thought this is the end of our troubles because the man will bale us out – only to realise there is no Cashpoint with free money! It’s the usual case with us – I.e., we believe in common wealth! We tend to think that if my uncle is rich, his wealth is mine too; you even stop making your own strides, expecting your uncle to foot your bills. It’s wrong. Without reference to Mr…

  13. Cont.,

    Without reference to Mr Hichilema’s personal business shrewdness, & wealth, he is just like the rest of us trying the best!

    #plant a tree please.

  14. I like,like,like to have my stomach filled with stories.Surprisingly,my stomach has grown into a belly to look and admire at.

  15. …………l won’t allow you to privatise my stomach…………it was last privatised in the 199….s?

  16. Damn it! Is State House still falling?
    Hi Zambians, wish you a good stay! Enjoy the ride.
    By the way, great stuff from Banda there I must state.

  17. Disraeli put it better:
    “There are three kinds of lies: LIES, DAMNED LIES AND STATISTICS”

    The Director of the CSO told ubufi

  18. This so called Doc is completely useless, he is the definition of what is wrong with Africa and Zambia in particular, this nut was campaigning for the most corrupt, theiving, violent, Gangster and incompetent Party and Government Zambia has ever seen, he is one of the greatest beneficiaries of Lungu’s corruption and misrule. Empty tins like this Doc will never ever write articles about why Zambia is where it is today, who brought us where we are, why does Zambia need an IMF bailout, why. Lungu and Pf destroyed our country and Economy beyond recognition. We gave the Gangster Pf Government time, let’s give UPND time so they fail on their own and get properly punished in 2026. Instead of writing these meaningless and misleading articles, have a life or go and do some work so you find…

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