Zambia’s Presidential candidate speaks on the economy & mistakes of the current regime - CNBC Africa

Zambia’s Presidential candidate speaks on the economy & mistakes of the current regime

Southern Africa

by Trust Matsilele 0

Zambia set to import maize at double the price six months after maize exports following drought crisis. PHOTO: Pixabay

Zambia’s opposition presidential candidate has called for downsizing of his country’s cabinet to enable the copper belt economy to direct resources towards other developmental areas.

Hichilema, an accomplished businessman has participated in the country's past four elections.

The opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) President, Hakainde Hichilema, says Zambia could not afford a cabinet of 65 ministers as this was unprecedented even compared to commonwealth peers.

Hichilema, an accomplished businessman has participated in the country's past four elections.

He also lashed out at current President Edgar Lungu’s government for failure to anticipate and prepare for the drought now gripping the entire region.

“The country would have been in a better place if we had not exported the maize we had. The exports were done even against expert advice,” Hichilema told CNBC Africa.

“We exported our maize at 200 US dollars per metric tonne and now we have to import at 500 US dollars per metric tonne which is a loss of 300 US dollars.”

He added, in addition to the costs of importation the southern African country is faced with challenges of a weakening local currency.

Zambia is heavily dependent on copper exports that comprise 60 per cent of the country’s total exports. The country also exports sugar, tobacco, gemstones, cotton and electricity.

Hichilema says Zambia should diversify its economy.

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“We have been talking diversification in Zambia for too long and now it’s time to walk the talk. If a country has a mono-economy and in our case copper then the country should prepare for volatility because the prices are bound to fluctuate,” he said.

“We have to make sure we support growth of the energy sector. The potential is good especially for hydro power with possibility of about 8,000 MW when currently we are only producing around 2,000 MW,” he added.

Hichilema said for Zambia and many other African countries to move forward with the development agenda, the continent should end politics as a profession.

“There is so much greed in African politics and there has to be life after politics [which will allow renewal of ideas]. Africa needs politicians with alternative sources of survival so that we don’t make politics a profession but a vocation.”

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