Zambia is in the midst of record economic growth but political squabbles and the Southern African nation's failure to tackle endemic poverty have taken off some of the sheen, analysts say.

Multimillion-dollar contracts are pouring into the key mining sector and in construction, but most Zambians are preoccupied with the political jousting between President Levy Mwanawasa and main opposition leader Michael Sata.

"Zambia has made significant gains in the economy but unfortunately everyone is discussing politics [at] the expense of development," said economist Charles Chiti.

In June last year, the country managed to bring down inflation to a single digit for the first time in three decades, while the average economic growth has been above 5%.

According to the International Monetary Fund, domestic savings in 2006 equalled 25,1% of gross domestic product and total investment reached 23,5%.

"The overall inflation out-turn has been unprecedented at 8,1%," said Caleb Fundanga, governor of Zambia's central bank.

The country also recorded a food surplus of 160 000 tonnes in the 2005/06 farming season and exported some of it to neighbouring Zimbabwe.

But the common man is unimpressed.

"We can't eat figures. We want to see jobs and more money in our pockets in order to believe that the economy is improving," said John Banda, a street hawker.

full story from M&G here