Tuesday, June 25, 2024

President Hichilema is rightly upset that the former President who ruined the economy wants to come back.

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By Edward Chisanga

Introduction

Economically, Zambia is at crossroads. On the one hand, there’s growing poverty and inequalities which is fanning anger, political and social flames. On the other, there’s growing finger-pointing. PF, its supporters, and sympathizers are basically inflaming the public that prices of essential commodities like fuel and food have risen from their point when PF leadership left office. Of course, prices have risen, in many instances beyond affordability of a common man and woman who don’t have as much purchasing power as the elite and those who simply stole.

But, what no one, even the ruling government is not vigorously explaining is the cause. I’m not an Economist by academic fittings. But, I understand economics and statistics enough to know who caused the current economic meltdown in our country. And, if I were of HH camp, it’s here I would vigorously and repeatedly make my point. Much as we must vigorously hold our elected officials including the President accountable as they run our economy, it must be based on responsibility. We must distinguish between symptom and cause. It’s unfair to entirely place accountability on symptoms and particularly those trying to correct them.

Every symptom traces a cause. In the last ten years, long before HH government arrived, the Zambian economy has been witnessing one of the most dramatic downturns, such that putting the entire blame on Covid19 is to be irresponsible. If we separate cause from symptom, we will see that in the last ten years, Zambia’s economic turmoil can easily be traced back to PF rule. President Hichilema, the person who is being blamed for these symptoms is a wrong one. Blame the right person.

What the HH government did not do but which was done by President Lungu

Using statistics, HH and his team must vigorously and repeatedly explain to the Zambian people the part that they did not do, or the cause of the problem in parallel with the problems they’re responsible for. The economic problem caused by President Lungu and his team which is now translating into economic hardships in households must be explained to the public. President HH and his government did not cause this. They inherited it. What Zambians forgot to see was that while they and the PF President were dancing Dununa reverse, Dununa Reverse was in fact reversing the Zambian Economy into pauperism experienced today, from what the Mwanawasa and Banda Presidency left.

Statistics show that this downturn of the economy was caused not by HH.

Figure 1 below shows annual average growth rate per GDP capita over the last ten years. It clearly shows that HH leadership is not responsible for causing Zambia’s economic troubles. I use the economic indicator of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita to explain the foregoing story due to its direct impact on the purchasing power of individual households. Economic experts tell us that when GDP per capita is rising, it denotes good purchasing power and living standards while the fall points to deteriorating purchasing power and living standards. This statistic you see below shows the trend in deteriorating living standards of Zambians. The Real GDP growth follows similar deteriorating pattern.

According to global economic governance, it’s the government that caused the problem that must be held accountable. We must begin by bringing to the Independence Stadium, the President that caused the economic mortification so he could explain to the Zambian people. We must ask him to explain if we celebrated political independence under his rule only to become poorer after ten years. It’s he and his team that are responsible for these economic hardships we see today.

Leadership accountability must begin with the cause of the problem, not the one trying to fix it. Accountability to the one trying to fix it should be based on the economic hiccups caused by him. That’s what we should always do as responsible citizens. It’s wrong for us to focus on blaming the innocent while ignoring the culprit. That’s where we always go wrong. Someone creates a national problem like hunger due to mismanagement of the economy. We ignore and point a finger at the new leader trying to correct things. That’s wrong.

Now, let us see what statistics tell us. Figure 1 below shows that Zambia’s GDP per capita has been shrinking in the last ten years, down from about 6% in 2010 to minus 6% in 2020 during the PF rule. This is a scandal, in particular by a government that thrived on public impression that the economy was doing well, Look at infrastructure, manifested in roads, clinics, football stadiums, public offices and other physical buildings erected by President Lungu, they used to brag about.

But expenditure on roads and other unproductive structures were at the expense of the economy. These so-called nice roads are not even used by the common man or woman but the elite that often show no respect for poor pedestrians. The roads have become so dangerous to common people that they even prefer potholed roads. Roads with potholes at least restrain reckless drivers from over speeding, thereby save lives.

Can critics explain how an economy not growing for ten years can feed its people today?

If the Zambian economy, measured by GDP per capita growth was declining in the last ten years, juxtaposed by growing debt, how is it possible for it to hold Zambians on its shoulders? How is it possible for it to feed its people? How can we responsibly expect a new government of one year to remove poverty created over the last ten years?

The poverty of today is something inherited by the new government from economic mismanagement of previous leadership. You economists know too well that a degenerating economy of the PF magnitude is not a strong foundation to generate jobs, provide affordable food and fuel prices. Jobs, affordable food and fuel prices are an outcome of a growing economy. But ours is not growing. It is declining.

Most Zambian consumers are not spending as much as they can because they cannot afford when the GDP per capita is falling. GDP per capita stimulates spending when it is growing. The living standards of Zambians will only improve if they continue to buy. This economy is not growing. In fact, it has been declining. Drivers of an improved standard of living include exporting more dynamic products, not simply raw copper.

Productivity and exports of dynamic products key

We will not get anywhere if we continue to rely on exports of raw copper. A nation cannot plan based on copper exports alone. How can we simply wait for the world prices of copper to rise in order for us to plan our economic future? When we won political independence in 1964, we promised citizens that we will diversify and add value to the country’s exports. Sixty years have passed, and our total exports are represented by almost 90% of primary commodities shown in Figure 2 below at the expense of manufactured goods. We have a private sector that speaks more than it works. In its current form, I don’t see how it can compete globally and even regionally.

Go to South Africa and visit their shopping malls and come back to Zambia and tell us if you found any Zambian export product sitting on their shelves. Yes, you have the so-called Trade King in Zambia. But the kingdom is not seen in South Africa because of shallow products.

Today, we are swamped by slogans of value addition and that’s important. But one hopes that this time around, implementation will take place. It better be because, according to a statement I read in the Lusaka Times, “Ministry of Labour and Social Security Acting Permanent Secretary, Zechariah Luhanga, said labour productivity in Zambia contracted by 21 per cent between 2019 and 2020.” International Labour Organization tells us, “Labor productivity is an important economic indicator that is closely linked to economic growth, competitiveness, and living standards within an economy.”

I want to know. When the Zambian economy, purchasing power and productivity are ceasing to develop, when they are declining, as is the situation today, can we expect the country to feed us three meals a day? Must prices of fuel, mealie-meal and other essential commodities continue to be at the same level as they were during the PF rule of no economics? PF leaders continue to boast that its economics served interests of Zambians when in fact this was based on subsidization. They contend that UPND is making lives of Zambians miserable. That’s not true. PF created all this messy we are in.

Concluding

I have said it before, but no one listens. We are going everywhere. We are rubbing shoulders with everyone. But, we have not yet done so with countries where value addition is taking place in Africa and in Asia. Value addition is taking place in Morocco, Mauritius and Viet Nam. Yet, Zambia has no robust partnership with them.
Finally, can those who are fantasizing coming back to power explain to Zambians, how, after destroying the economy, they plan not to hurt it more. Is there moral justification that leaders who destroy the economy and bring economic misery to their people should be rewarded by bringing them back to rule us again?

39 COMMENTS

    • The economy wasnt ruined. It is functional like any other African economy. Is Chisanga looking for a job?

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  1. ultimately Zambians will decide if they want a man that ruined the economy or the man who they entrusted with it but is more focused on whether or not lungu comes back or not. I would say focus on the job and delivering to the people so that when 2026 comes they will say this is the man for the job. if u focus on 2026 you will miss out on delivering now and then you will really be upset that they chose someone else.

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    • Positive action speaks louder than worrying about Lungu. I am sure next they will install cameras in his toilet just to know his next moves.

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  2. PF left the prices of commodities lower than what we have today. That is what people are complaining about. The economy that people want is what HH promised will do better than Lungu. Lungu is a hero today because of what people are going through. Just open you eyes and see if we have medicines in hospitals and check the prices of commodities. No graphs are needed to see how much food costs.

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  3. First. People are upset because HH made it look so simple; like he saw where the solution was and would apply it within days
    Second. Edgar Lungu is not coming back. He’s only playing mind games. Even if he decides to return, by which means? He has got to win the election. And who is going to vote for him?
    Third. Why would it be right for Hakainde to be upset if Lungu decided to run (not return please)
    Fourth. Hakainde is not acting transparently in many ways therefore losing trust.
    Lastly you say the PERSON WHO RUINED THE ECONOMY; that is enough for Lungu not to be given another chance to run the country, unless Hakainde himself knows something else…. that Lungu can win (which is not just difficult but impossible)

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    • This Congolese is right for once……..

      But is still bitter to be ruled by a tonga instead of his kin from the north……..

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    • #Spaka.. unfortunately you are just proving that your capacity of debating is lower than that of a kindergarten child. You are offering nothing to boost your party’s plummeting status.

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    • I dont debate with fooools…

      I only berate them………..

      You start insults , expect return fire.

      Now this Congolese is complaining when it is he who started the dirty language………..

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    • #Spaka… first there’s no Congolese here. Second Congolese are people too. Third I am not here to argue with a pig that keeps grunting in the mud. You can insult as much as you want it won’t add anything to your rotten credibility.

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    • Who cares about credibility on LT ??

      You vain foooool……..

      And I know you………you are a Congolese, don’t deny your ethernicity.

      And you are right, nothing wrong with being Congolese, but you seem upset about being called what you are……..

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    • @spaka the same people you are calling Congolese are Zambians who actually voted for UPND to win the August 2021 elections, please remember that. It is One Zambia One Nation.

      Spaka you are better than this to be calling other people non Zambians when you know very well all of us here on this platform are Zambians who care for our land.

  4. Hh is mad with power. Don’t say we didn’t warn you when he refuses to handover power for 28 years . Look how he has gone against upnd constitution to install himself as president for Iife of upnd.

    Pf left prices of key commodities below what they are now and yet hh will go on national TV and use a graph to spread silly lies. Hh w0funta. Fuseke

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  5. The greed you see in hh stems from his childhood of being the only child from his unknown father. He didn’t know his father and so has insecurity issues and needs to feel wanted.

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    • You should try your best not to take anything trolls say seriously. No matter how poorly they behave, remember these people spend countless unproductive hours trying to make people mad. They’re not worth your time of the day.

  6. A very touching insight.Zambians are reportedly missing PF today because of subsidization, a very destructive policy of popular appeasement. If PF had retained power in 2021,Zambian today would have been a failed state,HH is trying to reverse the decline by going back to basics: economic diversification through agriculture and mining. It will be a very painful experience ,but we shall succeed because the man has a heart for the people.He has reduced on wasteful expenditure,even giving up his salary

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  7. Solid points as always Chisanga. However, it is common knowledge that Zambians rejected the PF for the reasons you have mentioned and more. UPND in opposition gave us graphs on how we can reduce cost of fuel. Is it then reasonable to place the 100 percent increase on PF?
    Some actions of the UPND have absolutely nothing to do with PF.
    Most importantly, ECL is not coming back, I don’t know why we obsess over that. The man did his part in ruining the country and he resigned after a flawless loss. ECL has absolutely no intention of standing. HH, in my opinion, has a frail personality requiring praise all the time and obsession over things behind his shadow. A president getting angry sure? (White) gloves on, do the work and let that man conduct his jogs. We elected him to fix it.

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    • I have also said the same thing: Lungu doesnt have the energy to stand again and one can see it on his face. Anyway if I were in State House now I would be very happy if PF announced Lungu as their next candidate because I wouldn’t need to campaign for a second term. I’d rather be afraid of Sean Tembo. The last time I saw a rat in my house in Woodlands I got so worked up I couldnt sleep. The next day my wife calmly went and bought a rat trap from the nearby nthemba and in the evening Bang! The rat was dead.

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    • That RAT to be gotten rid of does not need HH to waste his energy on. Bang! It was “killed” trapped way back.
      The president is misdirecting his effort on Lungu.

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    • Kikikiki Mulongoti the lesson I got there was that I shouldnt have been panicking and failing to sleep over a small rodent. I should have, like my wise and calm wife, merely left it to the rat trap to sort the problem out. But our presidents dont know this

    • While agreeing with the past 20 years observations, HH is not a savior. He is a cunning manipulator and 100% self-enriching ugly selfish, greedy businessman. He is taking easy path of buning his financiers to dig deeper, extract the resirces, share the loot and leave behind but holes, polluted rivers, sick exploited workforce, elderly and children alike.

  8. If Lungu is coming back, is it right to say he can win elections after all this damage to the country?
    After 1991, MMD was telling us UNIP adulterated Zambia. PF threw in suchlike mantra. H-H is only playing politics to those that may not compeehend that all he wants to consolidate his stay in power. The blame game makes him to avoid responsibility.

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  9. Forget about Lungu. All HH needs to do is list his promises and make them as a checklist. Every time he wakes up he ticks on his list. As a friendly advice another faming season is coming and what is the price of fertilizer. I hope next year HH will not be blaming everyone apart from himself for Zambia not getting the best out of its natural resources. We have a lapdog for white people managing our resources.

  10. Lungu can’t come back………..there are details in his exit deal RB negotiated that are too devastating for him to reveal…….

    Lungu is being the paupet master pulling the strings because he is upset him and his family are being investigated……….

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  11. The deal RB negotiated for lungu had commitments from the new GRZ of HH to not investigate the 2016 presidential elections.

    Otherwise , lungu and his lautenants would be in jail today…………..

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    • Is that so? Even HH would be in jail today if election results were otherwise for collecting a lot of money from Vedanta to help Anil have KCM back. Either way.

    • Moans & Monks

      Ati to help anvil get back KCM……??

      No one will buy or run KCM with court cases hanging over it………

      It either stays idle or vendetta drops their claims and run the mine….

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  12. LT should stop feeding us propaganda. Rightly upset? How can you say that as if you are God? Politicians are never right or wrong. Its just their opinions and you journalists should not take sides in your dissemination of politicians’ feelings. You are being cheap. Even the world’s worst president Donald Trump is being allowed to stand and Joe Biden is not supposed to be rightly upset about this. The petty things that upset Zambian presidents!
    Chiluba was also “rightly” upset about KK standing for elections. Yaba!

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  13. The economy wasnt ruined. It is functional like any other African economy. Is Chisanga looking for a job?

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    • Zambia was not only ruined economically,bwana.Zambia was also damaged politically ,socially, culturally and morally.All human rights were abrogated,freedoms were curtailed by PF police thugs,we had cabinet ministers masturbating on social media and some people photographing themselves sleeping on tonnes of cash,money they never worked for, while the Christians for Lungu were waiting on the sides for their cut.You defaulted and internationally,we became a laughing stock

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  14. Ba chisanga, it’s not HH’s call to decide whether ECL should run or not. It’s the people to decide.
    However, if , as you say, that ECL ruined this country and is therefore a hopeless candidate, shouldn’t it actually please HH that the next elections will be a walkover?
    Why did you need to write this article?

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  15. A serious outbreak of infra-tentorial reasoning has afflicted Chisanga!!!
    Ignore his frail arguments.

  16. Blaming someone for your failures is the problem with our government. You can’t go on complaining about everything. Fix the things we move on eish…

  17. Everywhere globally, prices of basic commodities have skyrocketed exponentially, not only in Zambia.

  18. Continued
    The national debt situation at the time the PF took it over from the MMD
    The national debt was at $3.5 billion
    Just the few years of the PF taking over the debt jumped to $14.4 billion
    Break down as follows;
    External debt $9.4 billion and domestic debt K51 billion
    The year they handed power to the UPND the debt jumped to over $30 billion.
    The price of mealie meal was as follows;
    B/fast K59,50
    Roller. K32.00
    At the time PF left government K135.
    The exchange rate before PF took over it was at K4.19 per dollar when PF left office it went to K17 per dollar.
    In all fairness who has destroyed the Zambian economy?

  19. Let him remember that 2026 is coming just in corner. Busy blaming ecl but the question is where have you worked you think everyone is interested in free education or these fake cdf i can’t understand how useless cabinet is this because they can’t even recognise that there are wasting money. But you ati ba president bambi ati bali will fix it , you are just nothing yes you can do nothing. Even a baby who has come can even come with a cry, but for you nothing just nothing. 2026 don’t even make a mistake to contest because i don’t know how it could be.

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