Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu, has decided to diversify the nation’s economy by focusing on unlocking the agriculture potentials of tropical Zambia, while reducing its dependence on copper mining.
The president expressed this after being sworn in for a new five-year term.
Although Zambia’s economy has been hard hit by depressed copper prices, diversifying into agriculture still presents a number of difficulties.
Reports say the agriculture sector is one that still needs a lot of development.
This is owing to the fact that it is focused on staple maize and is mostly produced by subsistence farmers who lack the capital and technology to lift yields.
The future of the copper industry in Zambia was thrown into doubt in January 2002, when investors in Zambia’s largest copper mine announced their intention to withdraw their investment.
However, surging copper prices between 2004 and 2016, rapidly rekindled international interest in Zambia’s copper sector.
Prospects for resuming critical budget support talks with the International Monetary Fund have however been delayed, due to the swearing in of a new head of state.
Zambia’s incumbent, President Edgar Lungu, will be sworn into office for a new 5-year term on Tuesday next week, a government official said on Monday.
Secretary to the Cabinet, Roland Msiska, said in a statement that the government would proceed with the inauguration as the Constitutional Court has missed a 14-day deadline to rule on the opposition’s legal challenge to the presidential vote.
A leading member of Zambia’s main opposition party denied threatening President Edgar Lungu with violence and was released on bail on Monday.
Geoffrey Mwamba, Vice-President of the United Party for National Development, was arrested on charges of inciting violence against Lungu last week. Police said he had threatened to “go for his throat”.
“I deny the charge,” Mwamba told a packed courtroom, without going into further details. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison, a lawyer said.
Political tensions are mounting before presidential, parliamentary and local elections in August.
Mwamba was also arrested then released by the police last week on separate charges of training party supporters to become an illegal militia.
President Lungu a fortnight ago accused the opposition of training party supporters to cause violence during the elections.
Mwamba also denied that charge and his party said that the arrests of 21 of its members on similar accusations were meant to intimidate the opposition before presidential elections.
Both Lungu and United Party for National Development leader, Hakainde Hichilema, are seen as front runners.