CHARLES CHISALA, Lusaka
SEVEN months ago, Zambiaâ€™s economy appeared to be in an unstoppable tailspin.
It was like a combat helicopter that has just taken a direct hit from a shoulder fired surface-to-air missile.
A combination of internal and external shocks had thrown the country into an economic chokehold from which it seemed impossible to extricate itself.
The economy was in intensive care.
But it was party time for the enemies of President Lungu and the Patriotic Front (PF) government.
They were convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that their time had finally come. That soon Zambians would revolt and remove the PF from government so that they could take over without a fight.
In fact, some of them were already walking, speaking and laughing as if they were already in State House, to the delight of their gullible supporters.
But the party is over. The hate-mongering cabal are now gnashing their teeth and cursing their gods in utter shock at President Lunguâ€™s sterling performance.
It is like a scene in the famous South Luangwa National Park: a lone wounded, thirsty and exhausted buffalo bull is painfully limping down a dry, sun-baked river bed on wobbly legs, looking like it is going to drop dead any minute.
Over a dozen starving scavengers â€“ hyenas, jackals, foxes, vultures, craws â€“ are congregating around the animal in anticipation of the imminent mega feast.
Then things take a sudden, dramatic turn. The buffalo pauses and looks around, suddenly aware of the danger stalking him, swings his big head defiantly and unexpectedly gallops away, tail up, leaving the hungry predators watching in consternation.
The evident fruits of President Lunguâ€™s relentless efforts to stabilise the economy and improve the lives of fellow Zambians have confounded his enemies ahead of the August 11 general elections.
While they have been wasting precious time by holding endless Lungu-bashing press briefings, jumping from one radio station to another and gracing the front pages of their friendsâ€™ anti-government publications, the President and the PF have been on the ground working since February 2015.
They have been meeting and talking to ordinary people about development, especially in rural areas.
Now providence and human effort have put Zambiaâ€™s economy back on the recovery path. The signs are there for all to behold.
Even some of those who rubbished the October 18, 2015 National Day of Repentance, Prayer and Fasting are beginning to have second thoughts.
On May 5, 2016 President Lungu commissioned a US$323 million new shaft at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) owned Nkana Mine, triggering jubilation among the residents of Wusakile township and other parts of Kitwe.
â€œThis development renews our hope that the mine will soon resume production resulting in job and business opportunities for the Zambian people, and consequently contribute to the treasury,â€ Mr Lungu told the joyous crowd.
MCM chief executive officer Johan Jansen said the new shaft has extended the mineâ€™s operational life span by 25 to 30 years, and that it is part of the companyâ€™s long-term investment plan in Zambia.
An upbeat Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Christopher Yaluma predicted that the countryâ€™s annual copper production will surge to 800,000 tonnes next year.
The previous day in the same city, the President had launched the development of the US$50 million Edgar Chagwa Lungu shopping mall, which is expected to create 1,800 jobs for the local people.
He later unveiled Mei Meiâ€™s US$150 million Dola Hill Mini-city project in Ndola.
On May 7, the President commissioned the construction of the US$1.2 billion first ever power station in Lusaka to generate 100 megawatts of electricity as part of the World Bank-supported 600 megawatt solar roll-out programme.
Last month, President Lungu commissioned the K286 million Mongu-Kalabo road and the K108 million Sioma Bridge, for which the people of Western Province are rightly grateful.
The same week, he commissioned Sesheke Nursing School in the same region and the new Chama District Hospital in Muchinga Province.
Earlier in the month, Vice- President Inonge Wina had graced the ground-breaking ceremony for the establishment of a US$25 million Mansa Sugar Cane Plantation in Chembe, Luapula Province, which is expected to create 1,000 jobs.
All these and many other investments are evidence of the investorsâ€™ growing confidence in Zambiaâ€™s economy and political stability.
And while officiating at the World Farmersâ€™ Organisation in Livingstone barely days ago, â€˜Mr Walk the Talkâ€™ broke yet another piece of good news.
Zambia has forecast to harvest 2.8 million tonnes of maize from the 2015/2016 farming season, far above the countryâ€™s annual national consumption.
â€œWe are able to confront challenges and turn them into opportunities. This is why we laugh off those self-righteous sentiments and criticisms from some who think we have no capacity to run agriculture in particular and the economy at large,â€ President Lungu said.
The whole country is now criss-crossed by beautiful, newly tarred roads with many others still under construction or at tender stage.
While his adversaries have been busy spewing abuse and alarming falsehoods at him in collusion with some anti-government private media fiefdoms, President Lungu, Mrs Wina and senior government officials have been busy walking the talk, traversing the country commissioning completed projects and launching new ones in various sectors.
Marketeers and bus drivers countrywide are receiving loans to boost their businesses while the Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) is rolling out solar-powered maize milling plants that are producing cheap mealie-meal at as low as K55.
The Kwacha has dramatically rebounded to a single digit and is now trading at an average of between K9.30 and K9.78 to the US dollar.
The successes are too many to capture in a single article.
President Lungu has effectively pulled the carpet from under his enemiesâ€™ feet while they are looking, and Zambians should brace for more hate speech and insults as the dreadful day of reckoning draws nearer.
They ainâ€™t seen and heard nothinâ€™ yet, as the Americans would say.
The PFâ€™s robust infrastructure development programme, its pro-poor policies and President Lunguâ€™s humility and political maturity have endeared the ruling party with the poor and the workers.
The opposition has to find better campaign messages than hate speech and insults.
PF secretary general Davis Chama drove the truth home in an interview with the Times of Zambia on Sunday May 8, 2016.
â€œPresident Lunguâ€™s performance is sending shivers to the opposition camp and they have resorted to insults as their only means of campaigning,â€ Mr Chama told Times reporter Mildred Katongo.
Can the opposition stop the PF juggernaut with Mr Walk the Talk in the seat? That is the mega question.
CHARLES CHISALA, Lusaka