By Walcott Aganu
The story of President Hakainde Hichilema validates the saying that “Dreams don’t always come true without a lot of failures”.
With over 23 years of fighting for a better Zambia, quitting was never something he considered. Enduring many trials and tribulations from the heavy hand of an authoritarian regime – his perseverance has been one for the books and now the dawn of a new era is upon Zambians.
President HH, as he is fondly called by Zambians, is doing is a physical representation of his dreams for a better Zambia. On August 12, 2021, Zambians voted against all vices associated with poor governance. They voted against violence, arrogance, economic ruin, democratic desecration and all manner of criminality and Hichilema is making sure that the majority of Zambians don’t regret their choice.
There is a fresh breath in the status of Zambian democracy, human rights and rule of law. Before now, there were numerous complaints of the curtailment of press freedom, reduction in civil liberties and human rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and the deterioration in the rule of law.
There is no shadow of a doubt that President Hichilema has restored some normalcy in the Zambian society as far as democracy, human rights and rule of law is concerned. Freedom of speech and the press have been restored, and even those who did not allow others to express themselves are now able to do so.
There is a general air of freedom and lack of fear among Zambians today. It is undeniable that the HH’s New Dawn administration has performed well so far.
President HH is also making giant strides in turning around Zambia economic prospects. It is a fact that the Zambian economy was mismanaged in the last decades, but since the birth of the Hichilema administration, the economic trajectory for Zambia has been generally positive, both in intangible and tangible terms. In terms of intangibles, both local and foreign investors’ confidence in the Zambian economy has gone up. In terms of a few economic metrics, the exchange rate of the kwacha has improved from a high of K23 to K17/18 to a US dollar. The rate of inflation has dropped from 24.4% to 19.1% in January 2022. The prices of essential commodities have stabilized, and some have even started dropping.
With loans estimated at 12.7 billion euros, a third of which is due to Chinese creditors, the country had become last year the first in Africa to have defaulted on its debt since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the lack of agreements between previous governments and creditors.
But after a few months in power and intense negotiations, the Zambian president obtained a promise of 1.24 billion euros in aid from the IMF in December 2021, a chance for the country, which has been strangled by a colossal debt, to get its head above water.
The deal with the IMF is key to Zambia’s economic recovery because both the Western and Chinese creditors have put it as a condition for debt restructuring. Zambia’s foreign debt is so excessive that without the IMF deal, the country will not have much access to international finance, and the economy will be doomed.
With President Hichilema on the wheels, the country appears to be more at peace with itself than it was before the elections. The tension in the country has drastically reduced. Zambia is slowly becoming more united, and there is relative peace and tranquility than before. One of the major reasons for this is the fact that President HH has shocked his critics due to his lack of vindictiveness towards his political rivals.
President HH’s belief in reporting to Zambians through regular direct communication using various media is a breath of fresh air. He realises that he is accountable to the Zambian people.
Hichilema, a businessman turned politician, swept to power on promises to revive the economy, root out graft and woo back scared investors to Africa’s second-biggest copper producer. That is exactly what he is doing
“It was never going to be easy”, he has constantly said. But Zambians can dare to dream again.