Yohane Mbeeya Moono
On 10th September, 2021 President Hakainde Hichilema made his maiden speech to the National Assembly where he gave a number of Policy Directions for the next five years during his tenure as President of Zambia.
Before this address, talk ha centred around his earlier statement that Zambia would push for a bail out from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, during the speech that was conspicuously missing. That now raises questions like:
1. Has the country chickened out of the bail out deal?
2. Or do we wait for the National Budget from the Minister of Finance to get the position of government on the deal?
3. Is the President going to negotiate for a better deal in his supposed meeting with the leader of the IMF in New York later this month?
From a lay man point of view, the country doesn’t need the IMF bail out despite the first installment of the Eurobonds falling due next year 2022. With the reported External Public Debt standing at $18 billion, Zambia can negotiate for a Debt Restructuring deal in which the country can ask for time to start dismantling the debt properly and in the agreed timeframe. Additionally, Zambia is privileged to have given the mantle to lead the country to someone who has spent much of his time in the boardroom convincing investors to invest in his business. This means he has the potential to come up with genius Debt Restructuring Plan that would benefit all the parties involved.
The country has about 12 government owned farms countrywide, which are actively being utilized and others not being fully utilized at the moment. The Demographic information of the country indicates that much of the 18 million people in Zambia is youthful. Government through Zambia National Service and in the Government owned farms countrywide, can start farming medicinal marijuana which has the potential to improve the economy of the country to the tune of $ 36 billion annually. Medicinal marijuana can hugely improve the economy of the country. If the Zambian economy can be that productive and produce a commodity that can potentially bring $36 billion annually would make the country become debt free. With the country sitting on that potential, dismantling the debt would not be difficult for the government. However, security should be tightened in these farms looking at the risk that marijuana possess to the Youths of this country. This is the first step of going to the land of improving the Zambian economy.
Furthermore, Agriculture was cited as the number priority of the government in improving the economy of the country. Value addition to the Agriculture produce in the country would be of great value to the economy of the country. This is still going back to the land as the sure way of economic development.
Zambia is a country endowed with a lot of natural resources particularly the mineral wealth. The Sustainable Development Goals look at sustainable ways of living and energy is one of the goals targeted. Copper and Cobalt are key resources in the production of electricity vehicles which are more environmental friendly than the current fuel powered vehicles which have greatly contributed to high emission levels. The country should bring more value addition in the manufacturing industry in the Mining sector and encourage more investment. With Copper prices set to reach unprecedented levels of demand, the government should take advantage of this trend and use it as the springboard for economic prosperity for Zambia by increasing the production levels in the mining sector. Apart from Copper and Cobalt, the Country has also among it’s natural resources has Gold. A commodity which is very valuable and alone has potential to push the country to a Prosperous Middle-Income Nation. Going back to the land is a sure way for Zambia to catapult herself to economic prosperity. Economic Prosperity lies within our means and capacity as a country.
No country that has gone to the IMF for a bail out and can be said to have catapulted herself to economic freedom. If not well handled and managed this situation has potential to plunge the country into a recession. A prominent Zambian economist Dr Dambisa Moyo went as far as writing a book Called DEAD AID in a bid to discourage African countries from accessing these condition driven bail outs. Certainly the government should widely consult on this matter before making a final decision.
Our land and our Souls are the surely way for the country to find financial and economic freedom. Time to go back to the land. The country should use it’s natural resources to surge to economic prosperity.