The slide of the Zambian Kwacha cannot be blamed wholly on declining copper prices. The slide is too dramatic, unpredictable. There is no doubt that an element of speculation is behind the depreciation and sudden rebounds.
Opening at K10 to the dollar yesterday and closing at K11, the Kwacha exhibited a resilience that many other currencies on the continent have failed to sustain. It shows that with determination and commitment from all actors the Kwacha can stabilize.
Sadly the allure and attraction for profit and personal gain is too strong. Members of the business community with enough resources to impact the currency are exercising their muscle to manipulate and manage the Kwacha to their personal benefit at the peril of the economy.
The South African rand which has suffered similar slide has witnessed a more steady depreciation marked by specific events, and has not been idiopathic. Specific causes of impact cannot be identified unlike our currency whose performance is totally unpredictable.
At the same time the general business community has taken the cue to adjust prices upwards even where there is minimal foreign exchange input.
The paradox of the situation is that those who are best able to withstand the impact of depreciation are making capital out of the situation to trade in currency and make huge profits, while those with little means are left at the mercy of the business community.
Little wonder therefore that the rate of inflation has climbed to double digits.
There is indeed very serious concern that our very continued existence as a prosperous, peaceful, multi-party State living in diversity is increasingly coming under threat from hostile internal and external forces.
On the external front copper prices have hit a six-year low and the prognosis is not any better. Improvement in prices is being forecast for 2017-2019 when the world is expected to suffer a general deficit.
Effectively this means that the country will be denied a major source of revenue and may not therefore undertake major infrastructure development projects, let alone finance social programmes to the level the Government may have intended.
Similarly if the weather pattern in South Africa is anything to go by, there is every possibility that we may suffer a similar fate , meaning that a general deficit will result in general water shortages and more tellingly less hydro generate electricity.
This will have far-reaching impact on the nation as food security will be compromised.
The challenges posed by a combination of these circumstances will equally demand the combined effort of all citizens to combat the negative impact.
In particular it will require that all citizens especially those with means to influence the economic and social wellbeing of the Zambian people should play a positive “ameliorative” role than take advantage of the situation to benefit themselves.
It is important that all Zambians appreciate the circumstances and make every effort toward calming nerves, assuring doubts and giving more impetus towards the greater goal of diversifying our economy. Without this effort the situation is bound to deteriorate even further because the few with means will continue to manipulate in creating a situation of total inequality.
It is also a matter of national interest that political rhetoric should be measured and made in national interest.