National indaba



The economic crisis our country is facing demands extraordinary measures to resolve.

The  problems are deep and wide, many of them entirely systemic therefore demanding a unique approach that  emphasizes a unity of purpose beyond the narrow partisan political approach that has characterized the current  economic debate.

It is a no brainer that the country is  in economic distress as indicated by the performance of our currency which has depreciated by more than 30 percent in a very short period on account of many factors including the slide in  the price of copper, energy deficit and general economic recession following the  slowdown in China.

It is however one thing to diagnose the problem and yet another to implement remedial measures.

 While some solutions will require enabling pieces of legislation to implement, the majority will demand a change of mentality and mindset because there are rooted in the manner we conduct our business.

Whereas the price of copper has indeed gone down and thereby limiting foreign revenue there is need to examine the various contributing factors inhibiting our ability to diversify effectively and therefore earn foreign currency.

Our over dependence on copper has blinded us to alternatives that would help enrich our economic performance.

We entirely agree with civil rights activist Brebner Changala that it is counterproductive for the nation to continue finger pointing and blame passing when the problems are deep, complicated and yet dimensions are wide and implications deep to demand a united rather than partisan approach in seeking solutions towards diversification.

This will not be the first time the nation has come together in time of crisis.  It happened during the time of Second Republican President Frederick Chiluba and in the time of President Levy Mwanawasa. 

It is demonstrative that the minister of agriculture yesterday publicly denounced the importation of poultry and edible oils.

In parliament the Mazabuka Member revealed that dairies were failing to cope with the importation of milk from Poland.

These two examples are indicative of the malaise facing our diversification campaign.  They show a lack of consistency in policy formulation and implementation that one hand of government not knowing what the other is doing.

That is why a national economic indaba which brings together active participants from various interest groups will be able to tackle and offer pragmatic solutions through the problems that face us.

Such an indaba should bring participants from all those who have a major stake in the economy including farmers, industrialists, planners, manufacturers and of course presentation from relevant professional bodies and institutions such as Zambia Revenue Authority, Pacra, Bank of Zambia, Ministry of Commerce and other.

This should not be a political forum in which cheap points will be gained, but should be a serious introspection that goes beyond political affiliation to indepth analysis of the problems afflicting us to find long lasting solutions.

In a few days time the Minister of Finance Mr. Alexander Chikwanda has the most unenviable task of presenting the national budget against the buffeting storm of commodity price collapse, kwacha depreciation, uncertain growth prospects and a deteriorating global economic climate.

It is a task he must perform to give direction and focus to national development.