Nalikwanda UPND member of parliament Geoffrey Lungwangwa says it is unfortunate that President Edgar Lungu’s speech to Parliament last week did not touch on the policies to be put in place in order to achieve vision 2030.

At a press briefing, Monday, Prof Lungwamgwa further noted that President Lungu’s speech did not highlight any plans that the PF government has for reducing poverty levels or to create jobs for the youths.

And UPND national chairperson Mutale Nalumango said President Lungu’s speech was only meant to deceive people.

“The presidential speech is supposed to reflect the heart, the mind and the soul of the president in terms of the governance of the country. The speech was supposed to incur in the vision of the country, vision 2030. This is a vision which was put in place several years ago around 2007, it is the vision that late President Mwanawasa left for this country that is a legacy he established, that Zambia should attain the national vision 2030. The president of course did mention the essence of the vision namely, that Zambia should become a prosperous middle income country by the years 2030 and to build a strong industrial and dynamic nation that provides opportunities for improving the well-being of all our people and embody values of social economic justice. That’s what the vision aims to do. And I think it is incumbent upon all of us to ask ourselves that ‘are we really moving towards the attainment of that vision?’ and I think it is important for all of us to understand that vision 2030 is only 12 years away,” Prof Lungwangwa said.

He highlighted some of the strategic policies that other countries wishing to attain vision 2030 had put in place.

“I think it is important that we hold the leadership of this country along those strategic policy measures which other countries take and assess whether we are doing the right thing in our journey to attain the vision 2030. There are ten strategic policies which countries wishing to attain the vision 2030. The first one which they do is that they pay very special attention to a rigorous attack on poverty and unemployment, with rural poverty given special attention. And this is done through clearly targeted investment priorities. And the goal is to transform and narrow the gap between the rural and urban areas in order to improve the quality of life of all the people. Zambia ranks as one of the countries with high poverty and unemployment levels,” Prof Lungwangwa said.

Prof Lungwangwa wondered what plans the PF government could have for the poverty reduction and employment creation for the youths.

“What plans does the PF government has for the poverty reduction and the creation of employment for youths? We never head that in President Lungu’s speech to parliament. It is not enough to outline projects that are in place and the few numbers that have been employed, which is what the president did. What the president should have done is to tell the nation how the abundant resources which are at the disposal of the PF government can be transformed to create jobs for the youth. This is what creates hope and a better future for the youth. Where are the opportunities for jobs for our youth in the presidential speech? In the same vein, the speech did not create hope for our youth in terms of poverty reduction. The social cash transfer programme does not include the majority of the youth. Growing the economy at three or four percent does not give hope as a serious onslaught on poverty and unemployment in a rising crisis of indebtedness, the indebtedness which is taking 53 per cent of our GDP,” he said.

He also regretted that the president never mentioned anything about giving special attention to knowledge and skills as well as linking education and skills training to economic policies, plans or programmes.

“High debt level is in fact the surest way of developing the incapacity to meaningfully tackle poverty and unemployment. You cannot tackle poverty than unemployment when you are highly indebted like we do. The youths should have heard from the president the programmes that are being put in place to address the misery that they are in, namely poverty and unemployment. The second policy is to give special attention to knowledge and skills and linking education and skills training to economic policies, plans and programmes. We never heard this in the speech on Friday. The president should have taken time in the speech to speck to the hearts, minds, and souls of the young people and make them see what lays ahead in terms of opportunities for the better future,” Prof Lungwangwa said.

“The third policy strategy is to invest in education systems that emphasize the training of more learners in mathematics, science, technology and engineering. These are the knowledge bases for a strong industrialization of the economy. Nowhere in the speech did the president make any reference to the importance of mathematics, science, technology and engineering as the basis for industrialization. The fourth policy is of course placing high premium on the value of research as a basis for discovery, innovation and creativity. There is more funding given to research institutions to undertake locally grounded research which gives solutions to the problems of development. The firth strategic policy direction is to pay attention to rapid development of digital development in all sectors as a basis for the transformation of society for inclusive development.”

Meanwhile, Nalumango said the country was moving in reverse.

“The reality of the Friday’s speech was just to deceive the public. Zambia is in reverse in many spheres, in many areas the economy, social, political. It is dununa reverse. As UPND we are saying that we want to move Zambia forward. Corruption has siphoned the resources of the country into individual pockets. ‘we are economically growing because we see congestion on the roads, because we see construction of residential houses’ that is why we need a financial audit. Who is constructing these houses? Whose cars are congested on the roads?” Nalumango asked.

And Nalumango charged that district commissioners had been going round buying off opposition councillors.

“President Lungu speaks about unity in the country, if only he could be serious about it because indeed the country needs that unity emanating from the shameful manner in which the 2016 elections were conducted. In their quest to appear to unite the country, their district commissioners are busy persuading young councillors to resign in exchange for money. DCs have become the buyers, DCs are not political entities and not public servants. This is a shame. Thereafter, the PF has been using public resources particularly social cash transfer in by-elections to win at all cost. Their intention in buying councillors is t make it appear that there is growing national-wide acceptance of the PF. Through such sham victories, they give people social cash transfer a day before elections and tell them that ‘if you don’t vote for PF, we will not come again,” said Nalumango.