THE advent of the coronavirus pandemic or COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with world economies and Zambia is no exception.
As nations locked down their borders, it slowed down the movement of goods for both the exporters and importers.
This as a result led to an increase in prices of commodities. To make matters worse, a weakening local currency has added to the burden.
This means the government has to be innovative to ensure that they keep revenue rolling in even as they remain closed either totally or partially as the case is for Zambia.
Covid-19 is here and apart from claiming many lives and putting so many people out of jobs, it has also disturbed the normal life as people know it. The worst part is that it has also impacted earning ability of people.
This is not just affecting Zambia but other countries and everyone has to find a foothold and new ways of making a living.
This is the point President Edgar Lungu was making when he met provincial ministers at State House, and implored them to start thinking positively about the future and making plans on how to improve their areas.
Not only improve their provinces but ensure that the areas are economically sound and able to provide for the people.
The President is obviously cognizant of the hardships of those whose businesses have remained closed as the coronavirus ravages the country.
In the midst of this surging pandemic, the country has to survive and its citizens must make out a living.
The ministers have to figure out how to revive business that are safe enough to operate within the new normal.
Smart ministers will know that the best way to do this is to garner some local business brains and listen from everyone. No single solution can work everywhere, and so each province must work at finding a local solution which people can relate to.
The important thing is that people’s livelihood should not be allowed to degenerate into abject poverty.
At a global level, what is true is that whether governments chose total or partial lockdown, the results have been similar with businesses almost dying due to reduced economic activity.
The impact in developing countries is of course expected to be far worse than countries which can afford to pay their citizens to stay home. Zambia like many other struggling nations, does not have such capacity and hence the reluctance to go for a total lockdown.
Already, it is clear that the economic activities have shrunk not just with the closure of schools and bars.
This is not the time however, for leaders to fold their arms and wait for manna from heaven or a miracle to solve all the problems being encountered.
This is the time for true leadership to come up with tangible solutions to help citizens improve their living standards. It is time for communities to come together to be assured that the enemy is the Covid pandemic which should be defeated.
Like President Lungu told the provincial ministers, it is time to press hard on the pedal and accelerate development.
On Thursday, the president directed provincial ministers to strive to improve the welfare of the people in all regions.
Mindful of the prevailing circumstances, President Lungu said the Covid-19 pandemic must not derail Government’s development agenda and urged the ministers not to take their feet off the pedal.
Mr Lungu was speaking at State House when he received regional cluster reports from provincial ministers.
In light of the pressure the Covid-19 pandemic had exerted on the government to unprecedented levels, there is need for ministers to step in the gap and starting thinking outside the box. They have to be resourceful in finding means of raising revenue to help balance the social needs of the people.
In the last three years provincial capitals have been hosting expos which included foreign participants and we expect that from these, there should have been positive responses in terms of new business investments.
The first step is for ministers to ensure the residents in their areas adhere to Covid-19 prevention guidelines. Embracing new normal business investment must be accompanied by respecting prevention guidelines.