To achieve this vision, we shall build an inclusive, diversified and strong economy to actualize an equitable and united Zambia to make life better for all through good governance.
In our ten point plan, the number one issue is to tackle the problem of unemployment especially among the young people.
It is clear that the number one problem facing the Zambian people today is unemployment.
The Patriotic Front government has lamentably failed to create jobs for the Zambian people as they promised.
In August 2015, President Edgar Lungu promised to create 500,000 jobs by the end of 2016. After failing to meet this promise, President Lungu increased the target to one million jobs by the end of his second and last term in office. Of course, this is a fake promise.
To put this in perspective, there are at least 200,000 new entrants joining the labour market annually. The majority of these are from secondary schools, colleges and universities. It was estimated that the working age population in 2014 stood at 8.1 million . Under the Patriotic Front (PF) , thousands of jobs have been lost due to the government’s chipante pante style of managing the country’s affairs. Youth unemployment is particularly critical. In urban areas, more than half of the males aged 20 to 24 are unemployed. PF has failed to equip them with the skills they need to find and get a job, but equiped them with pangas instead.
For those who happen to find themselves in the public sector, the PF government has turned out to be a bad employer. Public sector workers have often been treated badly, including delayed salaries, unfair dismissals, retirement in national interest and transfers meant to frustrate the employee.
The PF government has misplaced priorities. Under the PF, Zambia has seen labour shortfalls in critical areas like health. It is estimated that there are just about 13,500 nurses employed instead of the required figure of 37,500. Many nurses and other medical staff have graduated but government has failed to employ them.
THE WAY FORWARD
Our commitment as UPND is that every Zambian should be EMPOWERED. We will invest in people to equip them with skills and increase the number of jobs available by growing the economy and supporting local businesses. How are we going to make it happen?
Jobs are created when local businesses and the economy grow. Our target is to grow the economy by not less than 10 percent per annum in the long run. We will prioritise support for labour intensive industries and open up opportunities in underdeveloped sectors such as agriculture, tourism and manufacturing. Agro-processing has the greatest potential for job creation. By adding value to the country’s products, alot of people will be employed. Instead of exporting maize, for example, we will produce mealie meal, stock feed and other maize products for export. By exporting finished products , we will maximise on the value of our export earnings and help to rebuild robust foreign exchange reserves.
We will tackle factors hindering growth in the economy. Some of the factors are high borrowing, both external and internal debt; high interest rates; low credit to the private sector and lack of a cyclical taxation regime that builds reserves when there is copper price boom and use the reserves during recessions.
In line with our vision, UPND shall create jobs through the following;
• Tax incentives for startups and investors in selected economic sectors and geographical areas (e.g. we shall reduce income tax to 5% for the agriculture sector).
• Transform Kapiri Mposhi into the Industrial and commercial hub of Zambia where rail and road networks from three corridors converge (( from South (up to SA), North ( Tanzania and eastern regions), the Copperbelt ( Congo DR, and Angola, Atlantic ocean))
• Reduce regulatory barriers and introduce one licence for all business
• Provide tax Incentives to local startup companies and those that promote internships for students to gain skills while on training
• Reduce Government borrowing (both local and foreign) to reduce the debt burden and avoid crowding out the local private sector. The private sector will be encouraged to borrow more for expansion and investment to create more jobs.
• Provide subsidized agriculture inputs (fertilizer and seeds) for the first three years; and revive the primary cooperative societies to run depots in all wards thereby create a supply chain for agro inputs; and markets for agro products, resulting in the creation of jobs in various localities.
• Invest in the development and acquisition of engineering and industrial technologies for domestic production and value addition through the creation of linkages between industry and the education curriculum development center.
Prepared by Joseph Lungu, Deputy Director of Research and Policy, UPND.