Controversial former Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo has told President Hakainde Hichilema to cut short his visit to Europe to attend to the reported ailing local economy.
The Kwacha has been trading between 23.09 and 23.53 against the US Dollar as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reverses the proposed debt restructuring plan for Zambia.
The increasing cost of living compounded by hiked fuel and commodity prices is another issue raising dust in the local economy.
In a media statement, Mr. Lusambo, a critic of the UPND administration, charged that the local economy is in the intensive care unit.
“The Zambian economy is collapsing, President Hichilema should cut short his Euro tour. It is now clear as day that the Zambian economy is in ICU. All key economic indicators have gone south. The poor, who are the majority among us are failing to cope because food prices have hit the roof.
It therefore beats logic why President Hichilema and his Finance Minister could be freely galavanting the world attending fruitless and endless meetings when the country’s economy is melting like a hot knife through butter,” Mr. Lusambo wrote.
“Throughout history, we have seen responsible leaders cut short their foreign trips in an event of a crisis back home. What we have on our hands now is an economic crisis and leadership and a hands-on-deck approach is required.President Hichilema and his economic team at State House have gotten us to this unprecedented economic collapse and should return home immediately to fix the problem or at least show concern,” he stated.
Mr. Lusambo said the local economy is failing after President Hichilema abandoned the economic recovery programme called Zambia Plus initiated by the PF regime.
“In his wisdom, President Hichilema decided to discard Zambia Plus and went to rent brains from the boys and girls in Washington D.C and he has ended up wasting over two years. Now that we are here, approaching the end of 2023 with a collapsing economy and a currency in free fall, we wish to remind Zambians of what we predicted over two years ago.We warned that President Hichilema flirtation with the IMF and the World Bank would never bring about any meaningful economic development for Zambia.”
“When the hullabaloo around Zambia signing a Staff Level Agreement with the IMF reached fever pitch, we wrote and engaged the IMF Country Office demanding full disclosure of the agreement. Our demand was that the UPND government engages the IMF on the basis of full transparency and mutual respect.Our objection to the IMF conditions was premised on the fact that, given our dark history with the IMF, a repeat of the mistakes of the 90s failures would be catastrophic for Zambia,” Mr. Lusambo said.
The dethroned former Kabushi Member of Parliament proposed that President Hichilema call a national indaba on the economy.
“The UPND government elected to ignore our recommendations. Today, after 2.5 years, the much heralded debt restructuring programme is now dead in the waters. China, a key ally of Zambia which was ridiculed, belittled and looked down upon in the whole process has now come back to tell this administration the same things we told them at the beginning. The G20 framework was a flawed process in design and in its implementation. Even us with limited understanding of the global finance architecture could see through this poorly designed framework and predicted that it could not work and true to our projections, we are here and stuck in the waterloo.”
“This should be a lesson to President Hichilema to start listening to voices of reason, he needs to start listening to Zambians. This economy belongs to Zambians and therefore they should have a say in the way it is being run. We therefore call on President Hichilema to immediately convene a national Indaba on the economy that will allow all Zambians drawn from different backgrounds to input into the future of the Zambian economy,” Mr. Lusambo concluded.