ABZ Calls for Action On Depreciating Kwacha [press release]

It is folly to think that sound monetary policies alone will solve the problem of the weakening Kwacha. The reality is that the depreciation of the Kwacha is a symptom of a deeper problem in our economy.

As we continue to demand for more effective monetary policies to arrest the free falling of our Kwacha, we should not forget to focus on what we should all do to address the problem in the long term.

It is not in dispute that the current slide of the Kwacha has been caused mainly by the soaring demand for convertible currencies for various imports. This rise in the demand for foreign currency has been aggravated by our notorious dependence on foreign goods and services. Many products our people are using or consuming in many sectors are produced outside Zambia and it requires foreign exchange to bring them into the country.

We have developed a destructive liking for foreign produced goods thereby killing our own manufacturing sector and frustrating local initiative. Our country has also failed to stimulate production of basic products that we use on a daily basis including such simple things as toothbrushes. We have continued to import kitchen utensils such as plates, cups and spoons 50 years after independence. We have been importing tooth picks, shoes, chitenge material (wrappers) and fruits including Irish potatoes that are also grown in Zambia. Some products that we used to produce in Zambia such as motor vehicle tyres, blankets, batteries and others are now coming from outside imported using foreign currency. As such, our imports far outweigh our exports.

Over the years, this scenario has contributed to the weakening of our Kwacha. It is therefore, folly to think that sound monetary policies alone will solve the problem of the weakening Kwacha. The reality is that the depreciation of the Kwacha is a symptom of a deeper problem in our country.

Therefore, there is need to introduce drastic measures to stimulate manufacturing of goods for local consumption and export. Government should also introduce radical policies to promote non-traditional exports especially those in the agriculture sector. It is now time to act on the diversification that we have been singing about for many years.

All of us should stop mystifying foreign products. We should buy locally produced products as a way of promoting our manufacturing sector and help strengthen the Kwacha in the long term. On this matter government should lead the way.

When ABZ forms government we shall not allow ministries and other government departments to buy imported products that our people also make in Zambia or indeed those that can be made by our people given required support. For instance, it is unthinkable that 50 years after independence our government should be buying imported office furniture such as sofas and tables. This trend works against job creation and also affects the strength of our kwacha in the long run.

Finally we urge our people to realize that the responsibility of strengthening our Kwacha lies on the shoulders of every Zambian.

Source : Zambia Reports

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