Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Misdirected Frustration

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By MacPherson Mutale

“Most Zambians are so frustrated today because they feel UPND and it’s New Dawn administration has let them down by not addressing hunger.

While we all agree that there is hunger and prices of goods are high, we need not forget why and how we got to this point in the first place.

The looting, mismanagement, pilfering and sheer maladministration, that was perpetrated for over 7 years brought us here.

When you decide to wreck a very fragile economy like ours and bring it down to its knees, expecting quick solution is nothing but misplaced and misguided.

The Zambian economy crushed from growing at an average 6.5% per annum of GDP, to a regression of -2.8%. From the time the former President took over the reigns of the economy, it was ever in one downhill trajectory.

The economy did not just shrink, it also became unequal and formless. All the economic fundamentals went unabatedly in the wrong direction.

We borrowed to a point where only two expenditure lines were taking up 90% of our budgetary income. We spend 90% of our revenues on emoluments and debt servicing and only remaining with 10% to keep the economy going.

The debt servicing became chocking and debilitating. With COVID-19 on the horizon, it was just a matter of time before we defaulted; we became the first sovereign state to default in the era of COVID.

With inflation at over 24%, the Kwacha fetching K22 to a dollar, over 90% of our income literally held captive, the economy was collapsing and there was no hope of recovery if we continued with the previous regime.

The 12th August 2021 elections provided a window of opportunity for the Zambians to redeem themselves. The opportunity was grasped with both hands and Zambians gave themselves another chance.

UPND as an opposition party made very ambitious promises to the Zambian people. These promises are here today to constantly remind them that whatever is promised during elections should not be taken lightly.

The new president and his administration are doing their best to bring back the country on track. It’s a very tough job that won’t bear quick results. It’s a painstakingly slippery slope to navigate.

The restoration of economic fundamentals In itself won’t immediately change anything in real terms. There is a lot more work that needs to be done.

The elephant in the room is the debt restructuring. Bringing all our creditors to the table will the greatest political and economic engineering of our time.

The profile of our debts is very complex. We have bilateral, multilateral, commercial debts from bilateral and multilateral countries and pure commercial debt and sovereign guarantees.

This profile of debt can not be negotiated over dinner. It will take a lot of back and forth engagements at the highest level.

We have to be mindful that some of these creditors knew full well our weakened position and that we would not afford to pay them, but they still went ahead and lent us money anyway.

As long as this situation remains unresolved, all the positive strides that the new administration is making will be eroded in no time.

The IMF bailout, though a positive catalytic converter of our negative economic outlook, has come with its own complications.

In order for us to retain our seat on the global financial system, we had to take some serious austerity measures. These measures will impact the very poor of our society.

The removal of subsidies on fuel and other social services will further complicate our efforts to lift our people from the deep well of poverty.

So here is the truth most people don’t want to hear. We have not yet turned the corner as long as our debt situation remains unresolved. We still have to look over our shoulders everyday until we get the restructuring that could give us some breathing space.

While most people thought the change in political administration will immediately change their lives, the reality is that it’s not that simple.

Most people who are frustrated are those who thought they will take over the feasts of their predecessors. Those who thought all the spoils from the PF will become automatically theirs.

While we all feel frustrated, we need to be mindful that when you get an economy into such deep mud, it take more than 10 years to recover and get to the growth patterns before the regression set in.

So I must make you aware that the first term of president HH won’t be a magic bullet that will change your fortunes. It will be a term of serious sacrifices from all citizens.

If, and when we manage to cross this term, with a unit of purpose as those who believe in the collective effort of president HH and his team, not just UPND cadres and sympathizers, but all well meaning Zambians who want to see our country recover, only then, will we all begin to see the fruits of our sacrifices.

In other words, all those who want to see quick fixes, am afraid you will be so disappointed and you will dump the UPND for populism that brought us here in the first place.

If there is anyone you need to be frustrated with, it’s those who noticed the cracks in the ship and did nothing to mend those cracks before the ship sunk.

Yes president HH has his own shortcomings with his UPND party, but my honest assessment is that, he is the right captain for our troubled ship right now.

If we make a mistake and decide to bring in another populist in 2026, rest assured, our days in the Wilderness will just become real again.

What we need now than ever, is to hold each others hands and try to pull in the same direction. It’s not possible that everyone will be happy with the current situation, but truth be told, ot could be far worse.

HH and his team have done some incredible work under the circumstances. But even the work done, is far from stabilizing our broken systems. It will take the character of a true nationalist to hold unto the dream and continue pushing in the face of unfair criticism mainly from those who brought us here in the first place.

The bad news is that, the agents of populism are not sleeping and they may deceive many weaker minds.

Unfortunately UPND as a party and the HH administration have not created a cadre of agents who can help project the positive agenda in the light that it deserves. This is the undoing of president HH.

The UPND as a party is like orphaned children left behind by their parents who never taught their kids how to survive but to perpetually depend on their parents.

The good news is that, always, good triumphs over evil. Those who want to drag this country to the gates of hell will be disappointed. The Zambian people are resilient and resolute. It’s always darkest before dawn.

Zambia and Zambians shall surely rise from this current darkness. All those prophesying that UPND will split will be put to shame.

The writer is a Lecturer at the University of Zambia

27 COMMENTS

  1. The UPND has been in campaign mode since taking over from PF, so you can’t say they don’t have people to explain things to Zambians. In fact the more they attempt to explain the more people get annoyed with them. The UPND are supposed to deal with problems and that’s what they told Zambians, not to explain them. How does the PF debt help explain the manner they have handled FISP this year? How does that explain the shortage of medicines in hospitals when Situmbeko says he has availed MoH the required funds? Don’t try to make excuses when signs of failure are prevalent in many sectors. Is it the PF debt that’s causing the Buju to over-detain political detainees on mostly unclear charges? Don’t mislead people

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  2. Please spare us the bullsh!t. What we want is mealie meal at k50, fuel at k5, fertilizer at k250. UPND knew about debt when they were promising these things. Covid 19 was at the max when PF was in power and UPND told people covid was a hoax. In very simple terms we are in Hell now and we are just counting months so that we remove the conman muzungu lover from power.

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    • Really laughable…you called bloggers lunatics when they told you borrowing was unsustainable today you want cheap fuel and mealie meal. PF wasn’t transparent with the debt issue especially the Chinese debt they kept borrowing even in 2020.

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  3. Bwana we are not kids to be lied to. We were told that UPND had the plans to solve all the problems created by the past governments. Immediate actions were reducing mealie meal prices, fuel price, fertilizer price among other things. Those execuse are signs of failure. Pure sign of under 5 in politics.

  4. Well said…………

    Zambians have to learn to sacrifice……….

    You can’t expect a feast with every new administration, no matter the campaign promises………..

    Sacrifices by the people of countries like Singapore, Malaysia , Vietnam should be considered………look where they are today.

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    • Sacrificing is similar to being in a crisis. You can only withstand it to a point; after which it’s total breakdown, possibly death for the person doing the sacrificing! Average Zambians were sacrificing under UNIP, MMD, PF and now UPND! When will the torture end? Meanwhile, those who gained whilst everyone else sacrificed, own numerous properties & hefty Bank balances to crown it all! Where is their sacrifice????

    • Zennia

      When the majority of Zambians don’t vote on account of slogans and tribe and learn to make elected officials accountable, then……….

      Zambians will not need endless sacrifice……

    • How long have we been asked to sacrifice? Our first minister of finance after ditching Kaunda, Ronald Penza told us to bite the bullet. We ve been sacrificing for over 30 years and you want us to keep sacrificing. Just like those slave masters insisted the slaves should toil

  5. This is a well put point of view.It is convncing.But most poeple must constantly be reminded that UPND is not in its fuorth year of rule.Yes,UPND has many initial failings to work on,but it is far better than PF which was a disaster.The same characters wabt to come back fronting populism to con the gullible.But they will be forced to face reality and adopt UPND policies and claim them as theirs.But they do not have an HH,a mutale Nalu,a Situmbeko,a Denny Kalyelye not even a Mwaliteta and many captains of industry and professionals that are in tune with current policies.All they have is Kambwili the grave digger,Tayali.and Nakachinda unbalanced individuals,Antonio Mwanza and Sean Tembo as intellectuals and some profeteering lawyers ‘
    What we need now than ever, is to hold each others…

    • ………’What we need now than ever, is to hold each others hands and try to pull in the same direction. It’s not possible that everyone will be happy with the current situation, but truth be told, ot could be far worse’. PF will only rebrand the same sh*t.PF must be disbanded in tha national interest

    • Deja Vu.Go back to school.even reading is a problem.I have told you already that you are likely to be charge under Section 132 of the Penal Code:Defilement of Idyoots or imbeciles

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    • #6.1 You know that I like it when my comments ruffle your dirty feathers.
      Join your friend under tfhe rock before he finishes all the frogs.

  6. Hello bane, i suggest that we as Zambians & Government pay those people that are negotiating this Debt e.g HH himself, Situmbeko Musokotwane and Denny Kalyalya. Ask why? Cos PF in its time hire Lizard, a French firm to do exactly what these 3 Zambians are doing today. So if we could source billions to hire a foreigner to negotiate a foreign debt with us. WHy not pay our own that are negotiating tirelessly and quicker. Believe me you, if it was Lizard , we wouldnt even have had the IMF deal closed by now,would ve taken them 5 years to just take that IMF package, infact even with that 5 years , they already tried and they failed.

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  7. Or if we dont ve this money to pay them then lets reclaim the commissions we paid Lizard for doing nothing. They lied to us that they were negotiation for 5years but looks like Musokotwane and Denny Kalyalya had to start from zero in these negotiations. where is the money we paid fake Lizard firm? lets get it and pay these guys ,and cash pls. If its corruption then let it be cos its good corruption that has produced results in less than a year.

  8. Deja Vu(6.2) What thing has dirty feathers and eats frogs under a rock with its friend?….You are a confused imbecile.

  9. “The new president and his administration are doing their best to bring back the country on track. It’s a very tough job that won’t bear quick results. It’s a painstakingly slippery slope to navigate.
    Their best is failing to remove cadres from the markets. Their best is failing to bring down fuel prices. Their best is having Chililabombwe sitting doing nothing with the world’s biggest copper mine. Their best is failing to repair roads in the coutry except in Lusaka which was done by PF anywhere. UPND is as useless as PF

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