On Sunday evening Muhabi Lungu featured on the assignment a Muvi Tv programme. Dear editor I will be grateful if you will allow me to bring to the fore what was articulated.
The topic was GOVERNANCE. Issues raised were, job creation, Agricultural policy, smuggling or shortage of the staple food, fiscal policy and exchange rate management.
Muhabi was asked to state whether he agrees with the president’s pronouncements that PF has created 195,000 jobs in less than two years of being in Government. He said MMD left formal documented employment at 700,000. Which PF disputed. PF brought down the figure to 500,000. If they have created 195,000 jobs it means they have added almost 40% to the 500,000. If 40% jobs have been created, why is it that jobs are not given to job seekers? In addition 40% is a big margin. Meaning this could have been felt by the common man on the streets. Alas! Our good friends who massively ushered PF into Government, the street vendors, minibus drivers and bus conductors are still complaining. They are now praising MMD, because under MMD when it came to investment and job creation this was visible. RB would be commissioning a new foreign direct investment project and youths would be employed on permanent basis. Today there is no such investment such as FDI. Muhabi Lungu also stated that there are no statistics from institutions tasked to enlighten the country on these job matters. ‘We do not know whether jobs created are casual, informal or temporally . In short the pronouncements are political therefore, are not credible. 40% job creation is too big a figure which cannot be felt by the governed’.
The question was, ‘ has PF achieved anything in this area?’ Muhabi stated, as things stand today things are being done in a haphazard way and its confusing. You do not know whether there is an improvement or not. There is no clear policy with parameters to use when carrying out an assessment. If policy in this area was sound we could have had enough mealie meal the whole country. He gave an example of MMD which recorded pumper harvest the last 4 farming seasons. How come there is maize and mealie meal shortage in the country today, mean while Government keeps on mentioning that we have plenty of maize in the country? It only means they have failed to manage the sector.
Shortage of Staple Food
It is unprecedented for the last twenty years to have no stocks of mealie meal in retail malls in the country. The situation of no food on peoples table is as a result of governing by decree. No round table discussions but simply pronouncements. Today they will introduce price controls which fail the next day, and another decree will be made of increasing mealie meal by Kr 5 or ZMK 5000. This lays bare the difficulties they have in managing the economy. What made MMD to be voted out of power was issues to do with mealie meal. The price then was in the range of Kr 39 to Kr 42. PF promised an incredibly reduced price, which today is the opposite. The official price is now Kr55 Kr16 more than MMD’s price.
Fiscal Policy and Exchange rate
MMD left a stable exchange rate of Kr 4.80 or ZMK 4,800 to $1. Today it is Kr 5.30 or ZMK 5,300. Which means the Minister of Finance is not doing anything in the management of the exchange rate.
Other issues discussed
Muhabi said the idea was MMD’s and PF managed to borrow that much because of good governance and economic policies MMD had put in place. Zambia’s reputation then was very good at the international scene, the economy was sound, investors had confidence in Zambia’s marcro and micro economic policies. Whether the Euro bond will be put to good use? Muhabi stated that there is no full disclosure how the euro bond will be used. There are un coordinated pronouncements about its usage, and no one knows where the money is.
He said the fight is selective and vindictive. Those championing the lifting of RB’s immunity did not come to equity with clean hands. There hands were soiled with more filthy than MMD ministers. He said the two ministers who accused each other of corruption are senior officers from the same party, which shows how serious the corruption is today. The instructions to Anti Corruption Commission by the president to never ever investigate a minister without seeking permission from him shows how serious corruption has gotten rooted in Government. When reminded that the ministers were cleared by ACC. He said ACC did not make that anouncement.
He said he had to think first to find one. Then he mentioned the intentions to resuscitate Nitrogen Chemicals. He said that was a good idea which was begun by MMD. Although MMD was looking at many avenues, whether to look for a private equity partner or pump in Government money.
A good idea but timing may not be good for the country. Rebasing was conceived by Magande then when he was Finance Minister. It took long to be implemented because the economic fundamentals had to be stabilised consolidated. Which is not the case today. That is the more reason the kwacha is depreciating every day against sterling.