LIKE many other citizens of this country, we were perplexed when we heard President Edgar Lungu making a proclamation that the state of our economy indicates that people have a lot of money and are living well. On Wednesday, President Lungu told the nation that economic activities in the country showed that the people were living well, contrary to the political narrative that there was suffering among citizens in the country.
President LUNGU: “When you talk of increased numbers of vehicles on the road, it reminds us of one thing, the economy. People will tell you the economy is not booming, yet activities which indicate that there is money in the economy and people are living well are there for all to see. This is the contradiction of our political activity where you see white, you insist it’s black.”
Uuuuum! Maybe this is why Zambia is in the position that it is in. We are using very different economic indicators. The rest of the people are looking at the exchange rate, the food basket, inflation and unemployment rate and the consumer purchasing index, among others. Mr Lungu and his economic advisors simply find the nearest highway to count the number of cars on the road. When there is traffic congestion, they go back to continue drinking whatever makes them happy, because to them, that is a key indicator that people are living well.
But even for a playful Head of State, this does not make sense. There are a lot of things that can remind a President of the real state of the county’s economy than just the traffic jam on a single lane highway. If President Lungu takes time to watch ZNBC or to read the Zambia Daily Mail, which he believes to have the most accurate information, he would be informed that the annual rate of inflation has increased to 22.8 per cent in March, up from 22.2 per cent recorded last month, which alarmingly is the second highest on record.
Also, if Mr Lungu cares even just a little bit to remain in touch with how the rest of the people are living, he would remember that the cost of living for the month of February, 2021, stood at over K8,500. That figure is nearly double the monthly salary of the average civil servant. And given the number of loans that our civil servants are enslaved with, this leaves them with basically nothing to survive on.
If President Lungu knew that there are still a lot of Zambians who use the kwacha to sell and buy commodities, he would have remembered that the local currency is now trading at K22 to a dollar, up from K6 to a dollar in 2015 when he took over power. What this means is that a cross-border trader who imports commodities is spending more than three times on the same goods than he used to spend in 2015. Yet the man who lives on taxpayers’ money, finds that development to be a sign that people are living well. Isn’t that mockery?
We have said it before that President Lungu’s jokes are not amusing, but seeing that he continues to make fun of the people’s suffering, we wonder if he says these things to deliberately show how detached he is from reality or there are other consumables, which influence this kind of mockery. Perhaps Mr Lungu is genuinely clueless about the state of the economy he is leading since he does not lack anything in his fancy surroundings at Plot One.
When Mr Lungu says that people are living well, it reminds us once again that this nation does not have a caring leader. Mr Lungu is a President, but his presidency can be compared to a man who climbs a tree and throws away the ladder he used when going up. It can also be compared to a man who fathers a child, but refuses to take responsibility. Such a man is a father only in name, and so Mr Lungu is a President only in name. He has no idea what it means to be a leader on the ground. He thinks that he knows what he is doing or what he is supposed to do, when in fact, he doesn’t. He has no plan on how he will turn around the situation that the country is faced with because he has already counted the number of cars on the fly-over bridges in Lusaka, and so, as far as he is concerned, people have money and they are living well.
If this is the economics that the PF would like to take forward beyond August, 2021, the people of Zambia must think twice before giving them another mandate!