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ZAMBIA’S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE

AND H.E PRESIDENT LUNGU’S PF GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC INTERVENTIONS (2015-2019)

There is no better document that espouses the economic vision of the Patriotic Front under the able leadership of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu than the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).

President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s economic and development vision has also taken into cognizant and resonates with the Vision 2030, African Union Agenda 2063 and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals among other national, regional and international protocols that Zambia is a signatory to in championing an economic vision that is all inclusive without leaving anyone behind. The development approach change from having different thematic areas to an integrated multi-sectoral approach is a key attribute to President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s economic development vision. The integrated approach recognizes the multi-faceted and interlinked nature of sustainable development which calls for interventions to be tackled simultaneously through a coordinated approach to implementing development programs (7NDP; p i).

However, it is worth noting that when the Patriotic Front (PF) came into power on 20th September, 2011, their economic development plan was thrust in Infrastructure Development. President Michael Chilufya Sata sought to create employment especially for the majority Zambian youths through the much desired infrastructure development and to stir economic development in supporting key sectors of the Zambian economy. This was also premised on the pro-poor policies and manifesto of the PF that is aimed at creating more jobs and putting more money into the pockets of the Zambians, in line with the PF slogan “For lower taxes, more jobs and more money in your pockets”.

This was not different from what H.E President Edgar Chagwa Lungu offered to the Zambian people when he was inaugurated as the sixth President of the Republic of Zambia on January, 24th 2015 at a colorful ceremony held at the National Heroes Stadium and attended by various foreign heads of state and government and representatives (Mutumweno, 2015). He made it clear from the onset that he was going to finish the vision of the late President Michael Sata and reinforce on the PF aspirations for the people of Zambia by building an integrated multi-sectoral approach to development that enhances inclusiveness in development without leaving any one behind, as elaborated in the 7NDP. H.E President Lungu in his address to Parliament on September 30th, 2016 reaffirmed his governments’ stance in building a resilient and diversified economy in line with the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP), making efforts to remove Zambia from its heavy dependence on Copper mining to one based on Agriculture, livestock and fisheries upon which he believes once well executed can give him and the PF government another fresh mandate this August 2021.

Furthermore, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu was not shy to set targets for himself and his PF government in terms of macro-economic goals. In his same address to parliament in September, 2016, the President said that “in the next five years, the broad macro-economic objectives of my administration will include achieving double digit gross domestic product growth, attaining single digit inflation rate and increasing and broadening domestic revenue collection.” This demonstrated President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s resolve to create a resilient, diversified and steady economy for the Republic of Zambia. As statistics would show, Zambia’s economic performance from the time President Lungu took office in 2015 to 2019 has not been wayward considering the global economic performance, fluctuating crude oil prices, fluctuating metal prices, trade war between China and the USA, among other factors affecting economies of the world, factors that even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) notes of in their country report on Zambia for July, 2019.

According to Hilda Lumba in the Times of Zambia Newspaper article on the 22nd September, 2015, arising from the President’s address to parliament on 15th September, 2015, President Lungu is quoted saying that he remains committed to the Vision 2030 of Zambia becoming a prosperous middle-income nation and reaffirmed his focus for Zambia’s economy been competitive, self-sustaining, dynamic and resilient to external shocks. It is therefore not surprising looking at the effort’s the PF government has been making over the past years under the tutelage of H.E President Lungu as the government is desirous to see an inclusive growth, and sustainable development which permeates gender, social economic status, ethnicity, race and religious orientation without leaving anyone behind (Mwila, 2019).

Furthermore, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu envisions a developed nation by 2064 through a transformational agenda which prioritizes seven thematic areas and these are diversification and sustainable development; infrastructure development; human capital development; democracy and good governance; gender and social protection; economic diplomacy; global partnerships and national defense and culture re-modeling (Lungu, 2015). This is also in line and hope of achieving the PF vision to make Zambia a more industrious, prosperous, peaceful, stable, united, democratic and inclusive society under the motto “One Zambia, One Nation”. Therefore, the aim of all this according to President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is to create economic growth, in double digit, that will bring about a reduction in poverty levels in Zambia and move the nation towards a smart economy characterized by access to capital, markets, talent, infrastructure, reliable and predictable regulations as well as promote a functional culture and social networks and ethical behavior in public and private sectors anchored on zero tolerance to corruption (Lumba, 2015).

The economic and development vision of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu places much emphasis on macroeconomic stability if Zambia is to be a smart and prosperous nation. H.E President Lungu and the PF government recognizes that macroeconomic growth, inflation that is within a single digit range, and stable kwacha against major world currencies, are prerequisites in attracting the much-needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and supporting sustainable economic development in the medium and long term. Of course, political stability and good governance, prudent use of resources and stable and predictable public policies also creates a conducive environment for economic development and that’s why the leadership of President Lungu and the PF government encompasses that in its economic and development agenda for Zambia.

President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s economic and development vision is well summed up in his inauguration speech when he said that “I want you to remember that today, you have voted for a jubilee president, a person who will target reducing your poverty and not my poverty. A person who will grow jobs and give you hope. A person who shares the same background as you. Like President Sata, I come from a humble background and have experienced the agony and anguish of deprivation. I will be your reliable and uniting ally in our war against inequality, social justice and deprivation”. He further assured the investors, both local and international, of a continued and improved conducive environment, with policies underpinned by consistency and predictability (Mutumweno, 2015). This in essence laid out the blueprint of H.E President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s vision for poverty reduction, economic growth and diversification, sustainable development and a middle-income nation by 2030.

What is interesting however is the examination of the fundamental prouncements that President Lungu has made in the last five years of his presidency on his economic goals and how is has fared in building a resilient, steady economy over the past five years. 2015 and the year 2016 gave a glimpse of the what H. E President Lungu wanted for Zambia and it remains for the people of Zambia to judge his performance under such difficult conditions and international settings and give him and the PF government another mandate beyond 2021. The world economy has not been kind over the years for H.E President Lungu’s reign. This is evident by the economic treads as observed by different international and local organizations.

Debt accumulation on the other hand has been a thorny issue on the part of the PF government with both local and international commenters urging the PF government over years to reduce debt accumulation as it was suffocating economic growth. While this is a factor and without taking debt in isolation as the single factor negatively affecting the Zambian economy, President Lungu and the PF government have not been shy about borrowing for the much-needed infrastructure development necessary to spur sustainable economic development. More and more infrastructure is unveiled and launched by H President Lungu that has gone to shape and prepare Zambia on a path for economic recovery.

In essence, President Lungu and the PF government has continued to fight for the economic recovery under very difficult circumstances while maintaining a clear vision and plan for Zambia’s development agenda. No single government, institution nor party can undo the economic challenges in a single day or two that are not just global in nature but are equally not alien to Zambia alone. Rather it takes a multi-faceted and multi-sectoral approach as the one taken by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and the PF government in dealing with the myriad challenges affecting the Zambian economy. While doing so, the PF government of President Lungu has equally factored in the need to maintain a steady balance between dealing with the challenges and maintain course on the national development agenda. This is the more reason that the PF government has continued to pursue economic recovery programs while at the same time keeping and maintaining focus on the development of Zambia for poverty reduction.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lengwe Cornelius Bwalya (BIRD-MU; DPPPR-ZIDIS; CD-ComDev) is the Founder and Executive Director of RHOMA Foreign Relations Institute, an International Affairs Policy Think Tank registered in Zambia. Mr. Lengwe Cornelius Bwalya is also a blogger, Image Builder and an International Relations and Political Analyst with over 5 yearsí experience in both national and International politics. For comments, suggestions or questions, please email lengwecb@gmail.com or visit rhomaforeignrelationinstituteorg.wordpress.com or simply call on +260 950 004 050.   © RHOMA Institute 2020

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