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Jesuit Scholars in Zambia Urge Political Aspirants to Show How to Address Rising Inflation

The official logo of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR)/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Aspirants to various political positions in Zambia have been challenged to highlight ways they plan to address rising inflation in the Southern African nation if elected in the August 12 polls.

In a statement published Tuesday, June 8, the leadership of the Zambia-based Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) also calls upon the political aspirants “to focus on issue-based campaigns.”

The Jesuit scholars say the campaigns should “stipulate clear, workable and enforceable interventions to address the rising inflation, currency depreciation and huge debt overhang that continues to impact the cost of living in a nation where many struggle to meet the cost of basic essentials.”

Zambia has an estimated US$20.46 billion public debt comprising both external and domestic dues.

The country’s inflation rate has also been projected to rise from last year’s 16.35 percent to 17.75 percent.

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In the Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) report that stipulates the country’s cost of living for May, JCTR officials say the May 2021 inflation rate stands at 23.2 percent, an increase from the 16.6 percent that was recorded the same month last year. 

“The impact of a continuous increase in inflation cannot be overlooked especially given the effect of COVID-19 on household income, economic activities and economic growth,” the Jesuit scholars say in the June 7 statement signed by the JCTR Executive Director, Fr. Alex Muyebe.

They add that the “further erosion of households’ purchasing power compromises the country’s fight against poverty; a key barrier to dignified living for all Zambians.”

“It should be noted that society has a responsibility to care and accompany the less privileged in society,” officials of the research institution say. 

Last month, the leadership of JCTR called on political aspirants in the landlocked Southern African state to “seize the opportunity offered by the campaign period to address the Zambian voters on how each political party is going to address the debt crisis and the resultant challenges the country is facing.”

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In their May 17 statement, JCTR officials said they are “deeply concerned with the rapidly weakening economy in our country, which is jeopardizing the economic and social justice of the ordinary citizens, especially the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable.” 

Instead of “promising paradise to the electorates”, the Jesuit scholars called on the political aspirants to “provide a convincing road map on the way forward regarding the current debt and explain how they are going to manage future debt contractions to ensure that the nation will never be caught up again in another debt crisis in the future.”