President Edgar Lungu’s spokesperson Amos Chanda says it is incorrect to characterize him as having said there are no problems in the economy, because State House and the Head of State are alive to the fact that there are two factors that have caused problems to the country’s economic state of affairs.
He said while it is true that he said the kwacha is depreciating partly as a result of the appreciating US dollar against other currencies across the world, that factor alone could not exclusively be attributed as the only cause of economic problems.
“I can see the headline says I said “there are no fundamental challenges, it’s just the dollar appreciating”, that is out of context and misleading because it suggests that I was saying there are no problems in the economy, when in fact I was admiting that there are problems in the economy. These problems have led to the depreciation of the Kwacha,” Chanda explained.
“What I said is that the depreciation of the Kwacha is a function of two factors, external and internal. For internal dynamics, we do not know and we cannot point at one thing, but for the external dynamics we know for certain that the dollar is appreciating, not just against the Kwacha but against the South African Rand and the Namibian Dollar and other currencies. So to attribute that the problem of the economy are purely because of the dollar is totally disconnected. In my own words, there are no fundamental and structural problems in the economy. The depreciation is a function of two factors. So mentioning the external factors and the internal factors which I mentioned, it leaves the headline completely hanging.”
He insisted that the Kwacha was not the only currency that was losing value to the US dollar.
“I will take you to page two where the story continues, I am quoted saying ‘we have seen that the government is examining the external factors that are causing that, but it’s clear and common knowledge that the US dollar is appreciating against different currencies, we are watching and are not exclusively resigned to the fact that these external factors are a major problem’. You see that, so the major problem is internal. So this direct quote undermines the headline. We are looking at the internal factors that could affect that, but what we can isolate with certainty is that the Rand is taking a hit, the Pula, the Japanese currencies are all depreciating against an appreciating dollar. So going into details in dangerous for us now because we want to watch and see clearly what the causes are,” Chanda clarified.
“So the way paragraph one and two of that story were phrased, left the editors with no option but to say Amos says “there are no fundamental challenges in the economy”, but when you look at the direct quote, it tells you that we are saying the internal problems which we are examining are causing the problems in the economy. So my problem becomes the headline and how paragraph one and two of the story were phrased.”
Chanda said President Lungu is alive to the economic problems facing Zambia and had dedicated time to it.
“To summarize my objection, I am actually saying there are problems in the economy. That’s what I am saying, but the headline mischaracterizes me as saying there are no problems in the economy. In fact by me admitting that there are internal factors which we are examining, I’m admitting that there are problems in the economy, but I am refusing to attribute that exclusively to the exchange rate. If you look at my last three comments in the past three weeks, you can see that I am telling the public that the President is concerned that there are problems in the economy and he has dedicated time to resolving this. So it goes against that background that I would say something totally different,” said Chanda.