By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
IT is not true that Zambia’s economy is going to collapse or in more dire straits than other countries in the region or beyond, Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) President Lubinda Haabazoka has said.
Dr Haabazoka said the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted business but insinuating that Zambia’s economy was on a standstill was wrong because a lot of efforts have been put in place to ensure that there was less burden when it came to livelihood of citizens.
He said stakeholders and politicians in particular should avoid casting negative aspersions on the Zambian economy for political gains as doing so could dent the image of the country.
In an interview, Dr Haabazoka said it was unfortunate that going into elections, some people had become “rough” in commenting on the country’s economic development.
“Due to measures that have been recommended to reduce Covid-19, there has been business disruptions but to start insinuating that Zambia’s economy is going to collapse or that it is on a standstill is very wrong because a lot of efforts have been put in place to ensure that there is less burden when it comes to livelihood of citizens,” he said.
On the rising prices of products, Dr Haabazoka said: “When you take for instance the increases in prices, you will find that South Africa for example which is a giant in SADC, prices have averaged 300 percent to the increase and in Zambia prices have not increased more than 80 percent.
“Just taking a check in chain stores you will find that Zambian products are two times cheaper compared to imported ones and you can relate that to foreign exchange as investors started pulling out forex from developing countries like Zambia,” he added.
Dr Haabazoka said it takes decades to build an image of a country and so speaking negatively will just dent the image. He cautioned against comparing Zambia’s economic performance to other countries as doing so was sending negative sentiments to investors.
“You cannot dent the image of the country just because of political reasons for example. It can take even decades to build an image of a country so speaking negatively of a country will just dent its image.
“I think that it is very positive to have economic and political discourse without denting the image of Zambia,” he said.
Dr Haabazoka said the Zambian economy, like any other country in Africa had negatively been impacted by Covid-19 related challenges.
He however noted that Zambia’s economy was performing way better than other economies as evidenced by the livelihood of citizens.
Dr Haabazoka cited the low fuel pump prices as evidence that livelihood in Zambia could not be compared to other countries whose citizens were fighting for the commodities at border posts.
Dr Haabazoka added: “Even the IMF itself acknowledges liquidity problems when it comes to government owing to difficulties in collecting revenues as industries have completely shut down and the mining industry that contributes about 80 percent of forex had to shut down because of Covid-19.”