PATRIOTS for Economic Progress leader Sean Tembo says in addition to getting a weak education in Russia, Dr Lubinda Haabazoka’s other handicap is that he has neither worked in industry nor practice.
Responding to Dr Haabazoka’s statement that Zesco has no capacity to subsidize the importation of electricity among other issues, Tembo said the Economics Association of Zambia president has never applied any of the economic theories that he learnt in a classroom in Russia, “flawed as they may have been,” to real life situations.
He said load-shedding results in loss of economic productivity as most businesses are unable to operate fully due to restricted power supply.
“Firstly you say that ‘if we are able to sustain load-shedding’. What do you mean by that? It is beyond debate that load shedding results in loss of economic productivity as most businesses like bakeries, welding, barbershops, salons etc., are unable to operate fully with restricted power supply,” Tembo said.
“Are you saying that there is a certain level of loss of economic productivity which is acceptable? Every ngwee of economic productivity is critical to our nation and none should be lost if we can help it.”
He wondered what made Haabazoka think imported electricity would have to be sold at a subsidised price.
“Secondly, you say that Zesco has no capacity to subsidise the importation of electricity. What makes you think that the imported electricity will have to be sold at a subsidized price? What is your basis for that conclusion? As a matter of fact, Zesco will be making a profit on the importation of power because our tariffs are some of the highest in the region due to that 75 per cent increment that took place in 2017.”
Tembo informed Haabazoka that copper was Zambia’s main forex earner and that without importing electricity and sustaining copper production, the forex would dwindle completely in months to come.
“Thirdly, you say that we must endure a bit and save on forex. Are you aware that as a result of the rationing of electricity, most mining houses are not able to operate at full capacity and our copper exports for August 2019 are expected to dwindle month-on-month? “Doc”, are you also aware that copper is our main forex earner and that without importing electricity and sustaining copper production, our forex will dwindle completely in a matter of months,” he said.
Tembo said while there are certain things that could be debated, others were a matter of common sense.
“Based on your argument that we would save forex by not importing electricity, can we also say that we should stop importing fuel so that we save even more forex? Lastly, if you asked me “Doc”, I think in addition to getting a weak education in Russia, your other handicap is that you have neither worked in industry nor practice. Straight from varsity in Russia, you went to teach at CBU [Copperbelt University]. After CBU, you proceeded to teach at UNZA [University of Zambia] where you are right now,” he said. “You have never applied any of the economic theories that you learnt in the classroom in Russia (flawed as they may have been) to real-life situations. In my view, you’re not a fully baked economist and you have no professional pedestal to stand on and make a sound economic argument. True professional development comes about by applying theories and concepts to real-life situations over a period of time and not by regurgitating theories to students year-in year-out in a classroom.”
Tembo urged Habazoka to show respect to practitioners because they had firsthand experience.
“I for one have been practicing for the past 15 years. Not teaching theories in class but practicing in the real world, advising governments on economic and development policy in the region and making a small fortune out of it in the process,” he said. “So perhaps you need to give some respect to us practitioners next time. We have first-hand experience of the impact of certain poor economic decisions such as prolonged load-shedding. When we take time to speak, we speak from a standpoint of experience and not theory.”
Tembo advised Habazoka to consider taking a sabbatical leave from teaching at UNZA and go on attachment with any of the renowned institutions in the country such as JCTR, ZIPAR or even commercial banks, so that he could learn the practice of economics and not just dwell on the theory that he learnt in class while in Russia.
“If you don’t heed my advice, then you will remain the loud-mouthed quack that you have always been,” said Tembo.