Opposition leaders in Zambia: Picture Credit: Lusaka Times

By Sean Tembo – PeP President

1. In part 1 of this series of articles, we looked at where our country is today in terms of our economy. We emphasized that we are at crossroads and the person who we vote in as President in 2021 will determine whether we can recover and regain our lost glory or proceed to plunge into the abyss of economic ruin forever. The task of turning around this country’s economy is extremely tuff but not impossible. Given the urgency of the matter at hand, having already defaulted on our external debt, we need to usher into office as President next year, a person who already has a plan to turnaround our economy and not a person who is going to start searching for a plan once they are in office. There will be no time for that. So, the question which every responsible citizen of this Republic should be asking themselves is; who among the myriad of Presidential candidates has a ready plan that is documented and published, for turning around our country’s economy? Who has a plan and how sound is that plan? Has such an economic turnaround plan been subjected to the scrutiny of the Zambian people and what is their feedback? Is the plan viable? Can it be trusted?

2. In the previous article, we looked at the first two of potential presidential candidates for 2021, being Mr Lungu and Mr Hichilema. We clearly outlined that President Lungu does not have the competence needed to turnaround our economic fortunes since it is him together with his predecessor; the late President Micheal Sata, that put us in this hole in the first place. Some people like to argue that Sata was a visionary leader and that it is Lungu who messed up Sata’s vision. But l don’t share those sentiments. I believe that our economy’s downward spiral started during Sata’s time due to his lack of respect for Government systems and processes where he borrowed recklessly and did not even put the proceeds of such borrowing to good use. When Lungu took over, he merely added his incompetence and lack of vision to land us where we are today. But make no mistake about it, today’s economic quagmire is a product of the incompetence and lack of vision of two Presidents; Lungu and his predecessor, Sata. If we are going to make progress from here, we need to face the reality of the situation at hand and not bury our heads in the sand.

3. In the previous article, we also tackled another potential 2021 presidential candidate, Mr Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND. I actually do wish HH was the right candidate, things would have been much more easier. But he is not, on many fronts. Most importantly, he is incompetent and has no vision for this country. His proposed solution to current economic quagmire is to go on an IMF program so that we can borrow more money from the IMF, albeit with more stringent conditions whereby the IMF will essentially be determining our economic policy from their headquarters in New York City, with no regard for the plight of a widowed grandmother in Kaputa Village. So if HH was to become President of Zambia, his immediate economic turnaround plan would be to put the country on an IMF package. It is worth noting that an IMF package is usually applicable in instances where a country lacks fiscal discipline and the fiscal discipline has to be imposed by the IMF by taking over your day-to-day economic management responsibilities. In other words, an IMF package makes you lose your sovereignty. You basically relinquish your responsibilities to an external institution which you cannot be sure will have the best interests of your country and it’s people at heart. By the way, this country has a history with the IMF and World Bank in the early 1990s when they implemented what was known as the Structural Adjustment Program or SAP in short. It is the IMF that compelled the Chiluba administration to sell our parastatal companies at a give away price, because according to them, they were a drain on the treasury and had to be gotten rid of. We all know that we destroyed our vast industrial base in the 1990s which KK had worked so hard to build, and we have not recovered up to now, all because of the IMF and its SAP. And Mr Hichilema wants to insist on putting this country on an IMF program as a solution to our economic quagmire? When we say the gentleman is clueless, it is not out of spite. It is a statement of fact. HH cannot take this country anywhere because he is incompetent and has no vision.

4. He is an accidental main opposition leader who inherited his political party from a dead man, just like Lungu. You see, there is something about people who inherit things as opposed to standing up, stepping forward and creating something from scratch because you feel compelled inside you to offer a solution. The question that people should ask themselves is where would HH be today if Mazoka did not die? He would probably still be at Granthornton working as a Managing Partner. So he is an accidental opposition leader. He became an opposition leader simply because an opportunity for fame arose and not because he felt compelled to do so because of the suffering of the Zambian people. On the other hand, people like Sata and Mazoka found it necessary to assist the Zambian people and proceeded to step out of their comfort zones and started political movements from scratch. Therein lies the difference when it comes to vision. Of course, apart from incompetence, we indicated last time that HH suffers from two additional handicaps that make him unsuitable to be Zambia’s President; he is a tribalist that has created a false national narrative that his tribe has been marginalized and hence what’s to be Republican President to correct that, and he also has credibility issues, having evidently swindled the country during the privatization of Mosi-o-Tunya Hotel in Livingstone. We did our research on that transaction and there is no doubt in our minds that the gentleman swindled the nation in that transaction. We are not sure about other allegations but on that Livingstone hotel matter, we are sure and are willing to back it up in court. Now, as a citizen of this Republic, the State will often call upon you to serve it every now and then. It might be in a small capacity and it might be in a big capacity, but whatever the case, when the State calls upon you to serve it, you need to serve it with distinction and honor. That is why in other countries such as the US, it is often considered a custom that anyone who aspires to be President must have served in the security or defense wings. For example, seven of America’s Presidents after 1945 actually fought in the Second World War. George W Bush was Director of the CIA before he became President. The point here is that you need to have served the State in one capacity or the other to show your suitability for the main job. When Mr Hichilema was given an opportunity to serve the country by managing part of our privatization, he instead decided to serve his pockets and put his personal interests above those of the State. And now, he is asking to be President. He abused the State once when he was given an opportunity to serve it, surely what are the chances that he will not abuse the State again if given the opportunity to serve as President?

5. This brings us to the other political movements that are there. Let us start with Kambwili and his NDC. We all remember that Kambwili was a very excited person when he was a Minister in the PF Government, at one time even telling Zambians to go and urinate in their cars if they felt that the price of fuel is too high. That is when he was Chief Government Spokesperson. Now, today Kambwili wants to portray himself as a savior to the Zambian people? What savior? We saw how you behaved when you were entrusted to serve the State in a smaller capacity and no one can trust you with a bigger responsibility of being Republican President. There is nothing there really. Kambwili is not even worth a full paragraph in this article. Then there is this other clique of former PF Ministers and other senior members who claim that they will deliver Sata’s vision! Which Sata’s vision first? The vision of haphazard economic policy where you issue SI 33 and SI 55 today and you reverse it after 6 months causing serious ripples in the market and causing the exchange rate to fluctuate from $5.9 to $7.4 within such a short space of time? The vision of borrowing huge chunks of money under the Eurobond and then keeping $400 million cash in a non-interest bearing commercial bank account for 5 months while waiting for Zambia Railways to develop a business plan of how they will spend the money? What vision? The vision of declaring a District simply because you liked the taste of the mangoes that you bought by the roadside in a particular area? Vision is not haphazard. Vision is structured. The only vision that Sata had was to grow his party and keep the MMD on its toes and not vision for managing the nation. He dismally failed to manage the nation and its a pity that he left us because it would have been nice to see the look on his face after we defaulted on our external debt.

6. Socialism? There is nothing there!

To be Continued…