University of Zambia (UNZA) political science lecturer Lee Habasonda says the looming impeachment process against President Edgar Lungu will create an uncertain political-economic environment, leading to loss of business and reduced investment opportunities.
And Habasonda says the failure by PF and UPND to fully commit to the internationally facilitated dialogue process is jeopardising good will of anybody interested in supporting Zambia in various ways, including possible negotiations for an IMF bailout package whose mission to Zambia is anticipated in April this year.
Responding to a press query, Habasonda observed that the state of affairs in Zambia, where the country’s indebtedness was at record high, political opponents were selectively being prosecuted and the ruling party was sending mixed signals about the dialogue process, would undermine the country’s reputation.
“The implications of the current political situation are that it will adversely affect productivity in the country not only because very few people will focus on their work owing to uncertainty in the governance system but also dampen national morale to put in their best. Already everybody is busy either supporting or defending the impeachment motion oblivious of the loss of man hours for production of goods and services. Truthfully speaking, there is no way that our current environment can create efficient resource allocation in the economy. In fact, it interferes with the normal operations of both the public and private sectors,” Habasonda stated.
“Clearly the current developments where the country is highly indebted, one of the big mines is being scandalised, political opponents are selectively prosecuted, the ruling party is sending mixed signals about an internationally facilitated dialogue process, and the looming impeachment process by the main opposition against the president, generates an uncertain political-economic environment, which in turn raises risks that could lead to loss of business and reduced investment opportunities. These developments further imply limited horizons for government to pursue long term public policies especially those conducive to better economic performance. In turn this reduces money in circulation and it is us the ordinary people who have to pay the price.”
Habasonda observed that the country’s missions abroad were being summoned to explain what had been happening in Zambia due to the current political stability at the expense of marketing the country’s tourism as well as its culture.
“The prioritisation of political skulduggery and failure to acknowledge our political reality and find solutions across party affiliation is troubling. The lack of serious engagement between the major political actors is a serious threat not only to political stability but also to economic management and pursuance of the policy of economic diplomacy which has been declared the centre piece in our international relations. Am sure that our representatives in the missions abroad are being summoned to explain what is happening in Zambia at the expense of marketing our tourism and culture and looking for trade and investment opportunities that the country so badly needs,” Habasonda stated.
He wondered how leaders could apply their minds to future requirements of the country if they could not even deal with political differences promptly.
“These developments are further weakening the preparation process for negotiating an IMF bailout package whose mission to Zambia is anticipated in April this year while our debt continues to soar. The uncertainty is also jeopardising good will because all those interested in supporting Zambia in various ways will maintain a wait and see position. How can we apply our minds to the future requirements of our country if we cannot deal with our political differences promptly, honestly, squarely and maturely? Is this the time to use surrogate one-man political parties to smear the international dialogue process? Surely we must be sensitive to important matters in this country. Otherwise we are headed for a catastrophe,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Habasonda said the prevailing political environment in Zambia required deep soul searching, reflection and an urgent solution that would address the root causes of the country’s challenges.
“The prevailing Political environment as it is now, is harmful to the development of any sector of our human endeavours. It requires deep soul searching, reflection and an urgent solution which will address the root causes and attempt to mitigate the effects on the quality and sustainability of economic policies engendering economic growth and the livelihood of future generations. Letting political instability to fester without resolve to address political issues urgently is undermining Zambia’s reputation which has long been our asset in our dealings with the international community,” stated Habasonda.