Zambia’s economy will quickly deteriorate to worse levels than Zimbabwe if the PF are given another mandate at the 2021 general election, says Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi.

In an interview, Milupi warned that Zambia’s economy would quickly deteriorate into a “basket case”, worse than Zimbabwe, which usually grapples with hyperinflation.

“I fear that the economy will get much worse than Zimbabwe because Zimbabwe had installed capacity arising out of the sanctions during UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence). They put a number of factories and that capacity had carried them from a long time, and they still have that capacity. Zambia doesn’t have that capacity. UNIP tried to create capacity, MMD came in and destroyed that capacity by making Zambia an importing country, factories were shut down. So, we don’t have that capacity! The PF government has shown no capacity whatsoever to manage the economy, to grow the economy. That is why we are still languishing as a low medium-income country,” Milupi said.

“Look at the economic sectors! Whether it is the mining sector, whether it is the agriculture sector, whether it is the energy sector, they have not shown a capacity to position these sectors to contribute to the Zambian economy. Another five years, already people are not eating, there is hunger in the country and it is not because of climate change; it is because of lack of foresight in developing their policies in agriculture and other sectors. We have gone backwards. Another five years of going backwards, Zambia will become a basket case.”

He observed that the country’s economy was already on its knees and re-electing the PF would worsen the situation.

“…If you look at how they have managed the economy; look at the reserves they started off with in 2011! They have depleted those reserves. Look at the exchange rate that they started off with that has gone up to so many times more! Look at the hunger situation! Zambia is now a perennial hunger country where every year, we’re facing massive hunger. Look at the prices of commodities! When farmers are expected to buy fertilizer at expensive prices, what do you expect a 50Kg bag of maize to be when they have harvested, adding on the cost of fuel and other things?” Milupi wondered.
“So, to me, Zambians really need to sit up and pay attention; this country is already on its knees. Another five years, if things continue the way they are, we shall move from being on our knees to literally being on our backs. Now, that is when people will see the real pain. You know, already, if you go into town, you go anywhere, people will stop you to talk about how hard life is, it is not just to me; people reading your stories will bear testimony to this. Everywhere you go, people in villages, a number of people are asking for help, for food and medicines. This is indicative of the fact that the country has a collapsing economy.”
He doubted that government would implement the recently-passed 2020 budget without external funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Already now, Zambia must go to its knees to beg for forgiveness of its debt. But since the contracted commercial debt from Eurobond and so on, you can’t expect commercial people to forgive your debt. So, the next stage is to reschedule these debts, which will make them more expensive, which will make debt servicing the number one line item, but it already is. Mr Lungu himself, when he was addressing Parliament in September, did say that two factors that was: debt servicing, emoluments for the public workers consumed 91 per cent of the budget. Dr (Bwalya) Ng’andu came and made his budget for 2020 in October, this year. It is a similar sort of budget, maybe K106 billion (proposed 2020 budget), but it is a similar sort of budget with 30 per cent earmarked to come from external funding…[but] IMF are being resistant to putting money in an economy here where we cannot control it, where there is no fiscal discipline,” Milupi observed.

And Milupi urged Zambians to rise above ethnic politics when voting in 2021.

“2021 is an opportunity to put in a different set of people who can convince us that they will put something different to the economy, not what the PF have done. As individuals, they have enriched themselves. That is why they went into government to enrich themselves and they continue to enrich themselves. Land is being grabbed from people, the Mukula tree saga…anywhere you read where there is corruption, top government officials are involved! That is why they went into government,” said Milupi.
“Zambia can do better than that. Let us get people who go there and work for the people to sort the economy, to sort the prices of commodities and so on…that is what we need. For that to happen, we must rise above tribal lines, we must rise above artificial sentiments like [being] humble and so on. An economy does not respond to humbleness, it responds to decisive actions taken to correct whatever is going wrong.”