LUANGENI UPND candidate Noel Nkhoma says the PF’s macroeconomic framework has created the current economic problems.
Featuring on Breeze FM’s political hour programme, Nkhoma, an economist, said had the PF managed the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals well the country would not have runaway inflation.
“We are saying to the people of Zambia that the PF’s macroeconomic framework has created the current problems we are having on the fiscal side of it and on the monetary policy side of it,” he said. “Had the PF managed the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals well, we would not have a runaway inflation from six per cent to 24 per cent. We would not have an exchange rate depreciating from the time that they took over government in 10 years from a currency exchange rate of K4 to a dollar to K24 to a dollar.”
Nkhoma said there was so much corruption that had not been reported in Zambia.
“If you read the Financial Intelligence Centre report, in the last two years they have documented corruption which comes closer to 60 to 70 million dollars. This is what has been reported, not by me or by UPND,” he said. “Now, if you take 70 million dollars which has been abused or corruptly benefitted few individuals and you put it in the education sector, can’t you afford free education? This is only what has been reported. There is so much corruption which has not been reported.”
And Nkhoma said the UPND government would bring about investor confidence.
“Which investor can manage to bring money with what we are hearing about corruption in Zambia? If the investors believe that the government which has been elected of UPND or any other government, definitely not PF, has taken over the realms of power, I can tell you that the exchange rate will first of all stabilise and the kwacha will appreciate. What drives the exchange rate is perception and confidence,” he said.
Nkhoma said economics cannot be detached from leadership.
“When KK was president, you saw how the exchange rate was but when [Frederick] Chiluba came he managed to bring down the dollar and the economy stabilised,” he said. “Now for us, what we are going to do to bring down the dollar? The first thing that we are going to do is to restore governance and restore rule of law. Let me explain this. Do you know that the whites who were running Mopani Copper Mines left Zambia? Their leaving implies that even the investment which they were bringing is not there. Again two other investors in different sectors also left Zambia but around mining.”
Nkhoma said if Zambia ushered in a proper government, there would be interest in Zambia as an investment destination.
“A lot of investors will be interested to come and do business in Zambia. The investors come with money, that’s why we call them foreign investors. They don’t come with empty pockets. Just that there is a regime change in Zambia, the investors come and if it’s a mine, a minimum to run a mine is about a billion dollar or two billion dollars. When the money comes just that pronouncement will make the currency appreciate,” he said.
Nkhoma said the UPND were not criticising the PF for the sake of criticising but that they were also acknowledging some of the positives.
“Unless you live in a different country, if you live in Zambia, the fact of the matter is that the economy has collapsed. The economy has been destroyed, we cannot pretend about it. Those who are saying what is happening in Zambia is also happening in America, it means that you are not being honest with yourself,” he said. “Look at what is happening for example in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe the economy is turning round now following a new leadership of [Emmerson] Mnangagwa. In South Africa, under [Jacob] Zuma the economy had collapsed but it’s turning round under [Cyril] Ramaphosa.”
Nkhoma said Chiluba and Levy Mwanawasa did wonders to Zambia’s economy and that the UPND had a clear focus of what it intends to achieve.
“Can you ask yourself: why are you buying fertiliser at K800? Let us be honest with ourselves! Why do you think the people of Malawi are coming to do shopping in Zambia? The Malawians are coming to buy their things here in Chipata because the Zambian kwacha is weak and their currency is strong,” he said. “In other ways, even when they drive from Lilongwe to Chipata, it still works out cheaper for them to buy in Choppies here. If our economy was strong, our currency would have been strong, the people in Malawi would not have been coming. But to them it benefits them because the Zambian kwacha has depreciated.”
Nkhoma said the kwacha had depreciated by over 400 per cent in the past 10 years.
He challenged those saying that the PF were not the ones who had destroyed the country to a debate so that he could show them the UPND programmes that would turn around the economy.
Nkhoma said the problem with some Zambians was that they do not ask leaders how the prices of fertiliser had gone high.
He said the UPND would restore the rule of law, governance, weed out corruption and promote a viable and all-encompassing business environment.
Nkhoma said the UPND wants to reset the priorities and values so that people are helped.