Saturday, December 13, 2008

Whats the plan for Zambia?

By Mingeli Palata, Lusaka Times, 11/12/2008

The rate at which the dollar is moving is worrisome. The markets are in frenzy and the mealie meal prices are not in their best behavior. One wonders whether it’s really the after effects of the global financial crisis or there is some element of irresponsibility on the part of the movers.

Enock Kavindele a man whose Zambia/Angola rail line idea has suffered at the hands of the negative forces of politics finally spoke out about a few days ago. I am not his biggest fan but what he talked about made me start to think there is an element of greed and irresponsibility on the part of the market players and the government itself that has resulted in Zambia’s latest misfortune.

The Food Reserve Agency is busy trying to buy Maize in South Africa, this is not only embarrassing and is uncalled for since FRA say they have these strategic reserves.The funny thing is that we really don’t know how much maize stocks we have in this country. What happened to the bumper harvest we had the previous year and years before? Was that all political posturing? Isn’t it ironic how the truth always catches up with people?

Let’s make an assumption and say that the FRA really recorded a bumper harvest, what happened to the maize then? Was it sold? To whom? The millers? How come maize prices went down during the campaigns?

Look I am just shooting in the dark here but the point is how much more about maize stocks or indeed government operations do we know about? You perhaps would equally ask this question for all but a reason, like Chibamba Kanyama stated earlier this week, this government is not inspiring enough. Its operations and very composition give little hope for the Zambian economy. I am yet to be impressed.

For instance, Kavindele questioned why the government can’t fund key strategic commercial farmers around the provinces who will be responsible for maize reserves. I think it’s a very good suggestion, why don’t we do just that. The government is directly responsible for feeding its citizens, no excuse, and right now they are failing in their duty. Zambia has no maize reserves as implied by plans of importing maize from South Africa, now just imagine if we were under siege, would we survive? I am yet to see GRZ being serious about this issue. It’s such a shame.

Today the kwacha is almost trading at K5, 000.00 to a US dollar; this was not the case in the good and long gone Mwanawasa days. Of course the price of copper has decreased due to less demand and there have been a few greedy people on the market who have bought huge quantities of dollar creating unnecessary demand and landing us all in this quandary, but what has this government done to regulate the exchange rate to our advantage or to stabiles market sentiments? The truth is Magande’s fate and this very government has sent dome jitters on the market and there has not been much put in place by the Reserve Bank to rectify the situation.

Will we ever learn, all we think about is copper and look what it has landed us into now! What’s the plan Zambia? Where are we going? The state of our copper, Maize and kwacha is enough to worry each and every meaningful Zambian.