Dr. Fred M’membe, the President of Zambia’s Socialist Party, expressed deep concern over the country’s increasingly worrying economic outlook. Highlighting the failure of a recent Bond auction, Dr. M’membe drew attention to the significant under subscription, indicating a lack of investor confidence in Zambia’s economy.
The Socialist Party President directed his criticism towards Mr. Hakainde Hichilema and his government, accusing them of pursuing an appeasement policy without considering the broader consequences. Dr. M’membe criticized the government’s decision to increase maize prices, asserting that this move would lead to a spiral effect on the overall economy, extending beyond the intended promotion of maize production.
While acknowledging the government’s efforts to address selling price concerns for suppliers, Dr. M’membe contended that they had failed to tackle the issue of high input costs, such as fertilizers and other farming necessities. He emphasized that by ignoring the impact on end consumers, the government had disregarded the profound consequences that would ripple through the entire agricultural sector, including increased prices for livestock products.
According to Dr. M’membe, the government should focus on addressing the underlying problems that contribute to low agricultural yields, such as the lack of mechanization at the peasant farmer level and the provision of extension officers. He further argued that the government should introduce smart subsidies at the production level to reduce the cost of inputs, thereby protecting the end consumer from excessive price increases.
Drawing attention to the broader economic challenges, Dr. M’membe lamented the absence of major economic activities on the horizon that could alleviate the current gloomy situation. He expressed doubts about the positive impact of the new fertilizer factory and raised concerns about the lack of details regarding the indicative selling price, thus questioning the overall financial viability of the project.
Additionally, Dr. M’membe expressed skepticism about the touted FQM billion-dollar investment, suggesting that its actual contributions to the economy have not yet materialized.
The Socialist Party President further warned that Zambia’s currency, the Kwacha, would face increased pressure against the Dollar once a debt restructuring agreement is reached. He noted that the country would need to settle arrears, along with accumulated interest, from repayments that had been neglected for almost two years.
Dr. Fred M’membe’s statement highlights the grave concerns surrounding Zambia’s economic outlook. He urges the government to adopt a more strategic approach to agricultural policies and calls for measures that protect the end consumer while stimulating long-term sustainable growth. As the country braces for the second half of 2023, Dr. M’membe predicts that failure to address these challenges adequately will result in severe consequences for the Zambian people.