Zambia has been independent for more than half a century but it is difficult to remember which came first, fiscal insanity or monetary madness or what showed up first as an aftermath of all this, poverty or dependent personality disorder.
This is a pervasive psychological dependency syndrome that has created havoc as it has made more than half the population develop an excessive need to be taken care of, become excessively submissive, have clinging behaviour to people with money and politicians, develop fears of any form of separation from the comfort zones of their extended family and jobs even if it gives them no retirement security.
Let’s agree; we all have different points of views, and they’re important, but let’s face it, facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence before us.
So, the question is: have we indeed reached that point of such abject helplessness—at both ends of the educated and illiterates amongst us—that nobody—nobody at all– even knows that money can’t be free anymore?
Fifty-six years, ago, we inherited a currency that was stronger than the US dollar. With pride our politicians changed the currency name to the Kwacha which continued to buy 1.25 US dollars for a while until it ran out of steam and slowly but surely began to buy less dollars until eventually, we needed eight kwacha to buy one dollar.
Twenty-Seven years later with a new multiparty government in place in 1991, we arbitrary said we needed not eight kwacha but 75 to buy the same dollar which by this time had also lost its value since it had abandoned its linkage to the gold standard on August 15 1971.
Our kwacha battled up and down for 20 years until 2012 when by this time it had aged and added three zeros to its age and lost its fighting spirit against an equally inflation butchered- aging US dollar, we now required 5,140 kwacha to buy the same US dollar that had also lost value. But again, in our politicians’ wisdom, they found the additional zeros on the aged kwacha unbarring so they shaved the zeros off and without the additional three zeros the kwacha looked leaner and better requiring only K5 to buy a US dollar and this appeared as though it was the same as the young kwacha of 1980s that was able to buy a US dollar for 8 kwacha each,
Today the dollar has lost 93 percent of its original value but our clean shaved kwacha has again grown one more zero and we now don’t require the clean-shaven 5 kwacha but three times more kwacha or 14 of them to buy the same badly bruised and devalued US dollar.
This has been going on because when we inherited the British pound that we changed the name to kwacha we thought it was free money that came with colonial benevolence at independence. So, it has been easy money come—easy money goes since.
Since independence, our Zambian economists have failed to acquaint themselves with the history of money and donor aid before they embarked on the treacherous path of advising politicians who don’t know that there has never been such a thing as free easy money?
So, we can easily get bogged down discussing the addictive and brutal nature of free money and forget we have to discuss what the opposition politicians are telling us about poverty in Zambia. For this, we need to demystify the myths behind the most stupid myths about current poverty being peddled by the same politicians since 1964 when they started the fight against poverty, ignorance, diseases, and the exploitation of man by other men that has continued to date.
First, according to Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane on Prime TV, current poverty as a result of a huge national debt could have been avoided, which is true with all debt that exceeds one’s productive capacity. But what about the carry-over poverty from 1964? Was that poverty eradicated? How about all the roads, clinics, hospitals and various wealth creating infrastructure repaired and new ones completed in the last five PF years that never existed under his watch as the World Bank Economist at the Bank of Zambia, Economic Advisor to President Mwanawasa and Minister of Finance under President Rupiah Banda the result of this debt?
These are facts that Musokotwane would like us to wish away and instead lie to us that he’ll be able to eradicate poverty and build all the new infrastructure and steer the economy to great heights with money created from “our own resources”, without new debt? Of course, this would be a brilliant achievement except he must start appreciating the there’s no such a thing as free money. Musokotwane should have endeavoured to shed light on how he will create new money this time around after he failed in the long period, he was our chief economic architect.
My advice to Dr. Musokotwane is that he comes with appreciated honour and respect to the political field, but he must start to watch every economic statement he makes because facts are stubborn things that cannot merely be wished away based on his new political inclinations, dictates or passion.
I personally hold Musokotwane responsible for today’s huge national debt because for more than a decade he was our top economist in Zambia he did absolutely zero—empty– nothing— to upgrade the same infrastructure to the point it degenerated to a level it was becoming impossible to navigate all the streets of Lusaka let alone venture to travel by road to any rural district and provincial center without ending up with a broken-down vehicle which required huge amounts of money in foreign exchange for spare parts and repairs. All because of Musokotwane’s cautious “prudent economics greed” which actually is unpatriotic.
As for Wynter Kabimba on another Prime TV programme– came up with a ridiculous myth on poverty suggesting that people are living on raw mangoes in the country. What young Wynter Kabimba forgot to mention is that he is ignorant about the fact that raw mangoes are healthy, with a ready local industry market and a huge resale township value within Zambia. The villager’s choice between eating their raw mangoes or selling them for cash to buy other needy foods, goods, and services is entirely their own. Wynter could have advised the villagers, should he have been aware, of the various permutations available to them and the villagers readily available free but valuable raw mangoes.
It’s possible, Wynter is not aware that raw mango contains vitamin A and Vitamin E that enhances one’s hormonal system. Eating or drinking raw mango juice with a bit of salt prevents the excessive loss of water from the body and helps quench thirst. The raw mango is also a great detoxifying ingredient. A dietician gave me an endless list including curing stomach troubles, good for the heart, treats scurvy, promotes the health of the liver and intestines and it is an energy boost.
In fact, the raw mango pickle manufacturing industry in Zambia does not receive enough of the seasonal mangoes to meet their annual production and consumption demand. As a result, we have many imported mango pickle varieties on the market on which foreign exchange is wasted. This is true if we go by what Wynter is telling us that actually villagers consume most of the raw mango as a portion of food without market value addition which the villagers could achieve by merely gathering and selling the fruit for ready cash ranging between K2 and K5 each.
Wynter is a typical politician who believes and has acquired and upgraded to western food cultures that despise exotic local food tastes like finkubala, inswa, opani lizards, grasshoppers, exotic wild roots, wild vegetables, mushrooms and fruits plus numerous other gathered foods as poverty and he wants to encourage a foreign food culture diet based on maize developed by Mexicans from a grass kernel 7, 000 years ago, meat, imported cooking oil, onions, prawns, lobsters and easy free money to the same villagers who have already developed a pervasive psychological dependence syndrome to receive any good or service without working for it.
I wonder the reaction from the same villagers eating raw mangoes if they received free exotic Sardinian sheep milk cheese that contains live insect larvae (maggots)? You see Wynter, the rare exotic Italian ‘CasuMarzu’ cheese is made with house flies that lay eggs and hatch live maggots in the cheese and the more the maggots so the tastier the cheese is graded and costs up to US$1,000 per kg. In fact, the entire Sardinian rare cheese industry has EU copyright protection against counterfeit producers and is worth US$3 billion. Go figure!
Just a thought,