Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) Spokesperson Antonio Mwanza says the PF government does not have the capacity to achieve the proposed 7th National Development Plan (7NDP).

Mwanza was speaking on Radio Pheonix’s Let the People Talk programme where he featured to discuss the newly launched 7NDP yesterday.

“If you look at the implementation challenges, it is clear that for us to achieve the objective of the 7th National Development Plan (7NDP), we will need a complete paradigm shift, we will need a complete overhaul of the current leadership, we will need a complete change in institutional frameworks, we will need to have a complete change in terms of altitude, behaviour, mindset and government policy and programmes. In short, if I have to be very blunt, the current leadership that we have does not have the skills, the commitment, the fiscal discipline or the know how to implement the programmes that they have put here because the structural, institutional as well as human limitations that have made the 4th National Development Plan, 5th and 6th National Development Plan fail are still very entrenched in our economy,” Mwanza said.

“And there is one thing that is very important that I will read from the document and this is on page 17 and if you read item 3.2 in terms of general performance of the previous National Development Plans and the revised 7th National Development Plan, the authors of this plan are saying that ‘at the time of developing the revised 7th National Development Plan, the 6th National Development Plan was in its final year of implementation’ and therefore, an ex-post evaluation had not been undertaken. So in short, they developed the 7th National Development Plan without analysing in detail and having the post evaluation of 7th National Development Plan and why it failed.”

Mwanza observed that there had been insufficient budgetary allocation to vital projects which made it impossible to diversify the country’s economy.

“This is not the first time that Zambians have come up with documents, Zambians are actually very good at writing documents and we have so many document that we have written, the problem is the implementation challenges. Now let me just spell them for the sake of the listeners, first problem has been the issue of insufficient budgetary allocation in order to diversify the economy. The Patriotic Front government has been singing diversification from dependency on copper to agriculture, look at the budget allocation to agriculture, is it in tune with the theme of diversification? The answer is no,” he said.

“So, while we are talking about diversification there is no sufficient budgetary allocation to agriculture in order for us to diversity, ensure that we change the mode of production, we change in terms of investing in agro-processing and invest for instance in fish farming, animal husbandry in alternative sources of energy such as solar, thermal and bio energy, so that is challenge number one. Number two, there is unpredictable budgetary release where the government says this is the money that we have allocated to this particular sector but in terms of releasing that money, there is a lot of inconsistencies because several times you find that actually the money is not even available in the national confers.”

And featuring on the same programme, former Lubansenshi Independent member of parliament Patrick Mucheleka said the 7NDP could not be achieved when the country was in so much debt.

“The document as it is tries to talk about vision 2030 which talks about Zambia attaining the status of middle income country, it also talks to the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, I don’t see us getting there because everything has been reversed and if you recall in 2011 when we went to the elections, Zambia had actually reached the level of lowest middle income, we were on the way up except everything in such a short period of time of five years or so has been reversed. And you may also wish to recall that at time, our external debt was less than $1 billion and President [Levy] Mwanawasa when he came into power actually showed political will by formulating policies even though he also begun by playing politics like any other African President, he later on realised that he had a country to run,” said Mucheleka.

“This is a public relations exercise and I am saying so with a lot of conviction coming from my background of development work and knowing what works and what does not and I will tell you frankly that this 7th National development plan is a non-starter. It’s a non-starter in the sense that for example they are saying ‘accelerating development efforts towards the vision 20230 without leaving anyone behind’. What does that mean? Because already you are saying that you going to be inclusive and we have shown here that this has not been an inclusive exercise especially that serious and major stakeholders where not taken on board. There voice and ideas haven’t been able to be captured here and again someone hasn’t been able to appreciate that Zambia is a multi-party state.”