By Ebi Kesiena
In Zambia, 11 opposition parties have united to condemn economic hardship, poverty, and unemployment under President Hakainde Hichilema.
Leaders from the parties who held a joint press briefing on Wednesday noted that they were deeply concerned and called for a national conference to discuss the state of the country.
In an open letter to President Hichilema, they listed 18 issues, among them “the very high price” of basic goods and the “arbitrary arrests and constant harassment of members of the opposition”.
The letter also alleged that the government’s promotion of “multinational, corporate, foreign and ultra-liberal policies has caused tremendous damage to the economy and to the wellbeing of the people.
The Socialist Party, the All People’s Congress Party and former governing party the Patriotic Front, are among those that signed the letter.
The southern African country has experienced a three-year debt crisis, it became the first African nation to default on its debt payments during the Covid pandemic.
Despite being copper-rich, loans and high interest rates have severely restricted Zambia’s ability to invest in critical social programmes and infrastructure.
Earlier in June, President Hichilema unveiled the outlines of a deal aimed at bringing Zambia out of its financial crisis.