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Socialist Party leader, M’membe, claims current economic woes worse than effects of COVID-19


Dr. Fred M’membe, the Socialist Party (SP) leader, has expressed doubts about Zambia’s revised Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth forecast of 2.3 percent, down from an initial 4.8 percent, citing severe economic challenges.

In a statement issued in Lusaka on Friday, M’membe highlighted the impact of load-shedding, high interest rates and other economic issues.

“We do not expect the GDP growth to be 2.3 percent in 2024. If anything, we are seeing it within 0 percent to 1.5 percent,” M’membe projected.

Read more: Zambia’s economy grew by 5.8% in 2023, ZamStats claims

He pointed out that the country was grappling with severe load-shedding of 20 hours or more in some areas, high fuel prices, a weak exchange rate and increasing inflation currently at 15.2 percent.

“Additionally, the market is experiencing low liquidity and contractionary monetary policy measures.

“The contraction in monetary policy measures has seen the statutory reserve ratio pegged at 26.6 percent, high Zesco tariffs, and high prices of basic commodities,” M’membe said.

He stated that these economic challenges had resulted in a significant reduction in production across all sectors of the economy.

M’membe concluded that the current economic negatives were much more severe than the impact of COVID-19.

“COVID-19 effects resulted in a negative GDP growth but with less severe consequences, comparable to the current scenario,” he said.

Furthermore, M’membe mentioned that the debt restructuring had brought its own implications as the country has had to resume servicing its external debt, which it had not been servicing since November 2020.

He noted that domestic borrowing had ballooned to almost K250 billion and external borrowing was also on the rise.

“We estimate current external debt to be in the region of $15.5 billion since the Minister of Finance cannot give actual figures, as seen on the Sunday interview where he could not remember UPND borrowing,” M’membe estimated.

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