It is not a secrete that things are hard.
Money is scarce and prices of commodities are not very favorable for the people.
We had salaries of civil servants delayed and even the private sector has had difficulties paying suppliers as profits for many have reduced- Cavmont and Investrsust banks have all recorded losses this year.
And the JCTR has revealed that, for a family of five in Lusaka, the cost of living has risen sharply to ZMW4, 934.00 from its previous ZMW4, 870.89.
With all these and many things in consideration, it is very easy- especially those in opposition- to blame President Lungu because he is the Head of State.
But is Edgar really the cause of all these things today?
Perhaps, to understand certain things, we need to look at things deeper than the surface suggests.
We know that prior to forming government, the PF promised Lower Taxes, More Jobs and More Money in people’s pockets.
When PF won, we saw massive decentralization taking place- new districts were being created which required monies- and because PF took over a broke treasury, there was need to find means to finance all their promises to people.
One of the things the PF did was to remove subsidies on fuel and maize.
The government also went to look for financing from private sectors- Loans and Bonds.
In no time, Zambia’s outlook, which had stagnated, began to look good- Roads were opened up almost everywhere in the country. We saw the construction of the expensive Mongu-Kalabo Bridge which had been problematic and caused loss of life for those seeking to cross that river.
You can now travel from Chipata to Nakonde without having to pass through Lusaka. Despite being landlocked, Zambia is now a “landlinked” country, thanks to the PF’s agenda.
Hospitals and Schools were constructed all over the country.
These projects added to the labour force, thereby delivering the “More Jobs” PF promised -understandably, the jobs are not permanent as we would want them to be.
Then, the Tax threshold was adjusted to achieve the “Less Tax”. Those who got paid not more than ZMW3, 000.00 per month were exempted from PAYE.
And the minimum wage was adjusted to benefit people, thereby giving “More Money in people’s pockets”.
Then something sudden happened, the sitting President, Sata died. We went for a Presidential by-election that gobbled lots of monies. During the 18 months that President Lungu ruled, things became bad- Load shedding increased, the mines were retrenching and closing and the dollar swelled to ZMW14.00.
And an election was looming- meanwhile the opposition blamed all these things on President Edgar Lungu.
On August 11 we went for General elections alongside a referendum and in no doubt this cost us lots of money.
Today, it been barely four months after President Edgar retained power.
Yes things are hard at the moment and no one is saying things are good because even President Lungu has admitted it.
But to blame these things on the President is to be very unreasonable.
Things are hard, but in what context are saying this?
Take for instance the issue of the dollar. Clearly, while there is truth in saying there are domestic contributory factors; external factors are playing much influence to the cost of dollar today.
During the 2008 global recession, as a result of shrinking of the dollar against other major currencies, investors with huge monies moved their monies to continents which had less effects of the Global Economic crisis. And much recently, when the dollar gained, to attract back that money the Obama administration increased its interests on bonds a move that triggered the investors to pull out their monies from Africa back to the USA which looked more lucrative.
And on the other hand, China, the number one trade partner of Africa had its currency suffering as a result its ability to purchase commodities such as copper and other minerals reduced. This made the prices of commodities such as copper, which is a major export material in Zambia, reduce. Eventually, the mines were now finding it hard thereby retrenching and closing.
Load shedding did not help matters- thanks to low water levels in Kariba dam which is housing the powerhouse of ZESCO and electricity supply in our country.
Today, we haven’t fully recovered from all these things.
There is now an increasing call for diversification of the economy to explore other means like Agriculture and Tourism. Yes, these are things that can be achieved and in fact replace our dependence on copper. However, to understand where we coming from- deplorable roads and infrastructure- even the diversification one talks about is not possible. Those who see no good in what others do or achieve of course will dismiss this and claim people won’t eat roads as they call for “Economic Development”, yet we know that even this economic development entails a process which only thrives on the perfect terrain- no one will want to invest in a country whose infrastructure is deplorable.
The PF have done very well in this respect.
We have organizations such as Post newspaper which does not pay its Tax obligations to the Revenue House yet they want government to provide social services to its people. How possible is this?
In the USA, 45 % of their Federal budget revenue is derived from taxes. That is why, the government is able to subsidies certain social services like healthcare etc. because they have a huge pool of monies from taxes.
We live in a strange society where individuals and organizations are busy dodging paying taxes. How are we going to finance all what we ought to do as a government, as a people?
If not through taxes, we are left with two options, Debts or remove Subsidies.
We have been on the Debt path before no wonder we were one of the most Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) not so long ago. Should we get ourselves on this path again were we borrow monies and leave the burden to pay back on our next generation of our children? This path isn’t health, its self-centered and cowardice!
What is wrong with “dying- a-little”, adjusting and putting in a little more hard work as a people?
President Lungu has said it that , he does understand that the removal of subsidies is going to be painful to the people- but it’s a drastic measure whose long term benefits outweighs the current pain of having to take up responsibility of our own expenses for needs and wants.
The truth is, the President and his administration are doing everything possible to cushion any anomaly and things won’t change in one day.
Let’s give it some time. All things will be fine.