Understanding Zambia’s Economic Journey under the UPND Part 1
By Daimone Siulapwa
As we continue to struggle for a better life and economic freedom, Zambians now find themselves at a critical standpoint and are aggressively pushing the UPND to deliver on its promises, more especially in relation to the cost of living.
However, it is also important to recognize the uphill battle they have had to face, steering an economy that appeared intact on the surface, but was brutally broken from the inside when they took over government.
UPND took the wheel with an overwhelming task of putting the brakes on a rapidly declining economy. The pace of deterioration has slowed dawn, but they can’t claim too much victory yet apart from the increased CDF, free education and the improved financial ratings as the actual gains need to translate more into tangible meaning for the people. It is difficult to fathom what would have been our economic standing had PF remained in power.
The truth is, fixing an economy is like fixing a car while driving it, and UPND has been dealing with a million issues simultaneously, but acknowledging the impatience of citizens and constantly communicating with them should have been their strong point which they missed.
As much as we understand that the last two years have been the UPND’s toughest, we expected more from them, but again that’s what they fought for, to get into government and fix the mess. Bally will fix it was the campaign slogan, now it should have been bally is fixing it.
Expecting instant benefits was of course perhaps a bit optimistic, given the tangled mess they inherited. We must sympathize with their predicament, but again people can’t wait two years to have a cheap decent meal, something has got to give.
Credit is also due to UPND for the positive financial gains, even if they’re not yet visible to everyone. We hope these gains will soon make a difference in people’s lives. However, UPND also bears the blame of poor communication.
In a world where perception is reality, silence breeds misunderstanding. The lack of a clear plan after taking office left people guessing, and in tough economic times, guesses often lean towards failure.
Surely, we all knew they couldn’t fulfil all promises on schedule – that’s politics. But we expected President HH and his team to level with us. A simple, honest acknowledgment of the challenges and a revised timeline would have been better than silence.
Instead, the void allowed social media and the opposition to weave a narrative of failure, turning it into propaganda against UPND. So now they need to deal with consequences of a wrong perception and change the narrative at the same time.
Going forward, regular updates are very important; UPND should now control the narrative and not be reactive. Tell us about the financial gains, and more importantly, break it down into everyday language – what does it mean for the common person? But let us leave the graphs out, the common man won’t understand.
Spending more time on the ground is a must. The UPND leadership must feel the pulse of the people, understanding the problems caused by their financial policies. Face-to-face interactions build trust and show a commitment to addressing issues head-on.
We know fixing a damaged economy is no walk in the park. It’s a complex journey that requires patience and understanding from both sides.
While citizens rightly demand results, they must also recognize the enormity of the task at hand. UPND, on the other hand, needs to step up its communication game, keeping the public informed and involved.
A united effort, grounded in reality and drove by transparent communication, is the way forward for Zambia’s economic revival. Time for regular financial updates is now, we cannot allow social media to run the narrative on the performance of our economy and accept that as factual.
As we hold the government accountable, let us also recognize the difficulties faced and afford the necessary time for their strategies to materialize. The road ahead is long, but with transparent communication, genuine understanding, and a shared commitment to prosperity, Zambia can emerge from the depths of its economic challenges stronger and more resilient than ever before.
… to be continued, part 2 will provide empirical data