It’s confirmed. Zambian President Michael Sata is dead at the age of 77.
He passed away last night reportedly due to a sudden onset of high heart rate while receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness, in London’s King Edward VII hospital.
Sata only managed to walk 3 years of his first term as president, however he created great strides while in power. A country that once upon a time depended solely on its mineral resource copper, is now a blooming economy,expanding GDP, Increased foreign investment, sector diversification and job increment.
In 2012 and 2013 Zambia registered a GDP growth of 7.3% and 6% respectively. This was also complimented by an inflation shrinkage to 7% mid-year 2013. This year, lending rates knocked down from 16% from 20% last year. The bow that neatly ties this success together, is the $3 billion foreign investment target that the government has not only achieved, but surpassed by over 500 million dollars.
Sata was able to achieve these not only through his populist policies implemented, but through the $750 million Eurobond issued to his country. The Eurobond money is allocated for energy generation and transmission, road and rail infrastructure, small and medium enterprise development, and health care. We cannot forget that Zambia has a history as a Heavily Indebted Poor Country, all the more, we are able to take heed of the success story that Sata has made for its economy.
Although others deemed Sata abrasive , giving him the name King Cobra (because of his sharp tongue), he continued to make promises on putting Zambia in greater heights. In Sata’s speech at the third session of the 11th National Assembly, Sata confidently stated that there were plans ensued towards socioeconomic development. In the agriculture sector for example, he noted that the government aims to reduce dependency on rain fed agriculture through promoting irrigation farming across Zambia and diversification. Targeting 17 thousand hectares of land to be under irrigation agriculture by 2016.
Sata’s bold industrialization and job creation strategy had government setting targets high targets of job creation for the country – with set marks of 510 000 in agriculture, 500 000 in tourism, 20 000 jobs in the Pave Zambia 2000 project and Link Zambia 8000 scheme already passing into its second phase paving 2 700 kilometres of inter-district highways.
Even though the president proved strong strides in his goal for uplifting Zambia, certain sectors and broken promises have left a bad taste in the mouths of his people. Paul Carlucci, a Canadian contributor for think Africa press, noted that local uplifment has not been one of his strong points. “Not all stakeholders are internal. Dominated by foreign ownership, the extraction industry anxiously awaits the completion of government’s review of the Mining Act, and, according to a piece in this month’s The Bulletin and Record, it is unsure of what to expect,” he notes.
“That makes for an uncertain investment environment in a country that relies on mining for 80% of its export receipts and, despite weaker Chinese demand, expects copper tonnage to reach 1.5 million tonnes by 2015,” he further states in his article.
Just as any other leader, Sata gave us two sides of the coin when it comes to his leadership skills. However, economic indicators proves his economic presence in Zambia.