Canisius Banda

WHEN STATISTICS LIE
[The Indefensible Case of Inflation and Poverty]


He was livid with anger.

‘To hell with the CSO!’ He shouted, his eyes widening, his facial veins bulging, both full of rage, spittle drooling from the corners of his mouth.

He was referring to Zambia’s Central Statiscal Office [CSO].

‘Why?’ Innocently, I asked.

‘I feel the pain, doc. Prices are high. Vavuta vinthu. The cost of living is killing us. And these traitors are waxing lyrical about hitting a single-digit inflation! What nonsense is this?’

Having been a key part of the UPND in the past, Hakainde HICHILEMA’s own vice president, I dropped my face in shame.

A tear rolled down his face: ‘I can’t eat, doc. My GOtv is closed. I have defaulted on my rent for three months now. My family is falling apart, doc. Nibwanji so? Things are bad. Nilibe pogwila.’

CSO.
To me, when he said those words, it sounded like he was saying Compromised Silly Office.

I didn’t smile.

I felt the man, empathy became me. It is not everyday that a grown man cries. Kulila so munthu!

I was touched.

To hell with the CSO, he had said.

I was certain that indeed, if the CSO with its single-digit inflation had gone to hell, they would find a lot of Zambians there, prematurely dead from the cost of living, gnashing their teeth, suffering and all.

You see, we all understand economics. Knowledge is not a monopoly of the UPND.

Clearly, something ain’t kosher with the CSO statistics, something isn’t right. There is something fishy going on there.

Zambians are in pain.
Zambians are hurting.
Zambians are disillusioned.
Zambians are enraged.
Cause? The cost of living, and they feel conned.

The cost of living in Zambia has skyrocketed. It is so high that it is costing lives.

A textbook definition of inflation states as follows: ‘Inflation occurs when prices rise across the economy, decreasing the purchasing power of your money.’

In Zambia today, businesses are not doing well. Buyers are few, business is slow.

The sell-rate of their goods and services has critically fallen. Their profit margins have contracted.

And to break even, a number of these companies are now laying off their workers.

Hakainde HICHILEMA promised to create jobs. But the converse is happening.

Clearly, Hakainde HICHILEMA’s trickle-down economics just isn’t working. Usually, such formulae for a people’s wellbeing, ceteris paribus, takes years, which time Hakainde HICHILEMA doesn’t have.

In Zambia today, salaries have remained stagnant in the midst of a depreciated, weak Kwacha.

Imports remain expensive.
Credit in the economy is low.
Prices have risen.
The cost of production continues to rise.
And the purchasing power of citizens has severely been eroded.

This then is inflation, dear pilgrim. Tell the CSO about it.

Confused Statiscal Office indeed.

Take mealie meal, a key determinant for holding presidential power in Zambia.

In August 2021, a 25kg bag of mealie meal was at about K120. Today, 1 July 2022, it is well over K170.

Youvsee, from then todate, its price has been inflated by over 29 percent.

And never will it ever fetch K50 as promised. NEVER. Perhaps when rotten.

With stagnant salaries, as Hakainde HICHILEMA himself lamented and observed prior to the August 2021 elections, what this means is that the power of a Zambian’s money, with reference to mealie meal alone, has reduced by over 29 percent.

Meaning to purchase the same quantity of goods you now need more money than before.

This then, CSO, is inflation.

Very soon, Zambia will become the first country in the world, in the midst of a ‘falling’ inflation rate, to see citizens, fueled by anger and the need to survive, take to the streets to protest a stifling high cost of living.

Indeed, it is easy to run FOR office by it is NOT easy to run the office.

‘Doctor, these people are liars. The opposite of what they promised is what is happening!’ Another citizen, complained, poverty about him all too evident.

I wanted to tell him that God is in control, that He allowed all this to happen for a purpose, that another new dawn, a better one is coming, but I just kept quiet. Me and my modesty.

Instead, I said to him that for as long as the economy of Zambia remains in foreign hands, for as long as we the Africans abandon LUMUMBA ROAD, the path to freedom and self-determination, the path to political and economic sovereignty, Zambians will remain poor, suffering and pain will never end.

I said with utter conviction.

Impressed with my response, he said: ‘But why are you not in government, doctor? We need minds like yours there.’

There is time for everything, I replied, advising him to read Ecclessiastes 9: 11 for further guidance.

Situmbeko MUSOKOTWANE, Zambia’s finance minister says there is a Plan B for the nation’s economic recovery if the IMF route fails.

What he conveniently chooses to ignore is that the IMF route has failed for many years in many countries.

Zambia’s own route, focusing on the judicious exploitation of its own human and material resources, can never fail.

Perhaps this Plan B, assuming it is citizen-centred, should have been Plan A.

See now?
Hakainde HICHILEMA has done better than Afcons Construction to decongest Lusaka. What a trick this one! No need for road infrastructure expansion, you see. Just hike the price of fuel and all vehicles are parked! Voila!

But it is not just the price of fuel that Hakainde HICHILEMA has hiked. He has also hiked the anger of citizens. It is becoming uncontainable.

Citizens are now calling him names. Others, a tad early, have already started to say that he is a failure.

And many, like the cars that now aren’t moving, the cars he has now caused to park, are now calling for him to park as well.

They do not want to hear his name anymore. They are saying: ‘Uyu munthu nichani so? Ma years yayendeko fast!’

FIXED, the citizens are now annoyed and sad. This then is sad and shameful tale of the FIXER.

One promise I will make and keep is this one. Hakainde HICHILEMA’s reign will be a very difficult one for him, it will be one replete with pain, suffering and disillusionment for the citizens, one which no one will forget.

Calculations and tabulations failed on fuel reduction.
Calculations and tabulations seem to be failing on budget management and inflation.

For now, buckle up, fellow citizens.
A very bumpy and stormy ride lies ahead.

Compromised Silly Office indeed.
Single-digit inflation, my foot!

Use a Happiness Index instead. It is a more reliable indicator of a leader’s hold on power.
Impressive statistics that do not translate into people’s comfort and improved livelihoods are utterly meaningless. How the people feel at any given time is by far more important than any digit.

Now all citizens’ digits are angrily and disapprovingly pointing at Hakainde HICHILEMA.
FIXED.

Dr Canisius BANDA
Development Activist

1 July 2022

15 COMMENTS

  1. A DOKTA, Ka mungulu sana aka. So you want a direct connection between inflation and poverty. lol

    THERIZ NO!

    There are a lot of factors that determine poverty and one of them is umungulu.

  2. Stick to your lane, my dear doctor. Allow economists to the explanation.
    I didn’t even read your article. It’s pure rubbish.

  3. The one whom you are talking about in the third person is actually yourself even though you tried to hide. If you failed to pay for your GOTV subscription then how is it the fault of upnd. Just ask your new friends in PF to pay for you. And BTW stop calling yourself development activist. It’s no longer a secret now that you are PF even getting a seat on their MCC table so you don’t need to hide under that fake title you gave yourself. Just sign off as PF MCC.

  4. To be honest with Dr Banda there are two possibilities one can reduce from your article

    1. You are actually dull and you don’t know what you are talking about

    or

    2. You are not dull, and you understand exactly what you are trying to do

    I think no. 2 is more probable. you understand exactly what is going on but you want to manipulate Zambians into thinking things could have been better when you know that is not possible. In short you are politiking. That “development activist” is misnomer to lull people into believing you care for them . You actually don’t. You are selfish when you withold correct information and instead put out manipulated or untrue information for your own political benefit

    It’s pitiful that a doctor can sink so low

  5. The rate of inflation is supposed to vary directly as the price of commodities and services obtained on the ground. That is if the inflation increases the prices of commodities and services are supposed to increase after all inflation is a product of physical data which is obtained from the ground by statisticians or researchers. The same is true when the inflation decreases the corresponding price of commodities and services are supposed to decrease. This is the simple principle of dynamics of inflation verses prices of commodities and services on the ground. If you find the opposite of this is happening, just know that either there is total incompetence in the professionals involved in the exercise or there is just simple manipulation on order to hoodwink the public that is well. In the case at hand in Zambia there’s inflation which is varying inversely as its prices of commodities and services where inflation is coming down while the prices of commodities and services are skyrocketing. This does not correlate with principles of inflation verses prices of commodities and services on the ground.
    So, the query by Dr. Banda is very legitimate and all those who are opposed to his augments are just politicking. I have a lot of confidence in the CSO but the rate it is going, its integrity may soon be waned.

  6. Has so much time. But things would have been 100% worse if PF won. even the doctor himself (Dr. in history, or what) he cannot fix anything. It is easy to pretend from outside.

  7. After reading through the Doctor’s story, I looked for a common denominator and i am glad that i found it, it is in these words; “Impressed with my response, he said: ‘But why are you not in government, doctor? We need minds like yours there.” So the whole story has nothing to do with economic analysis but someone’s bitterness because he is not in Government. But whose fault, did he not leave on his own? Otherwise he could have been in Government offering solutions to the mess his party left behind. Let me also remind you of one comment from PF, it says; PF’s bouncing back to power will depend on HH’s failures. So the doctor and many others in the opposition are not happy and cannot be happy to hear CSO announcing positives for the Government because that’s not what they would want to hear. From the day HH was sworn in, they have been praying for his failures and are so negative that even if it meant inciting people to protest or rise against the Government, they can do it and this is actually what the doctor is trying to do through his story. He is saying people don’t even want to hear his name and yet the President interacted very well with the people of Copperbelt in his recent tour of the Province. So which people is he talking about? In case the doctor has forgotten, HH never campaigned and yet he got the highest number of popular votes than any of his predecessors and those votes (2.8) were free from manipulation or any malpractice. They were purely based on his popularity despite all the restrictions that were imposed on him to thwart his campaigns and movements. So to claim that people don’t even want to hear HH’s name being mentioned in less than a year cannot be true, it is just someone’s own hallucination. HH is a gift for this country to repair its economy and he will surely fix it and is determined to do that. CSO people are experts in their job and when they report a reduced single digit inflation, they know what they are talking about and I don’t think a doctor is the best person to challenge them.

  8. It is very difficult to be objective when you are a ” could have been”, because your judgement is clouded with envy.

  9. Especially when one misleads himself and jumps into a sinking boat at the time it is actually sinking further. Kikikikiki. The Doc, sorry the Dog has drawned together with the boat. Kikikikiki.

  10. This is a problem with our type of education. The whole doctor fails to understand what inflation means.
    He fails to understand that prices start
    reducing when you have negative
    inflation. It is a RATE at which prices are increasing. So inflation decreasing
    means prices are still increasing but at a slow rate.

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