UPND secretary general Patrick Mucheleka government panicking and lying that it is addressing youth unemployment because elections are around the corner.

But Chimwemwe Independent member of parliament Elias Mwila says government should be commended because it is trying its best to create employment.

On Monday, Minister of Youth and Sport Emmanuel Mulenga said government was seriously addressing the high levels of youth unemployment. He said government had so far placed about 5,000 youths on internship and apprentice programmes in public institutions and the private sector.

Commenting on this in an interview, however, Mucheleka said government was panicking because elections were nearing.

“Government is panicking and telling lies because the elections are around the corner. Every year, the government allocates funds towards the youth empowerment funds, they have never told us how that money has been used to mitigate the challenges that our youths are faced with. They have turned the empowerment funds into the PF funds. He should be sincere as a minister as opposed to telling lies. All I know is that we have more than 50,000 youths that have been trained as teachers, those remain unemployed some of them are working as maids and these mobile money booths. We have other youths who were trained and nurses, clinical officers have also not been employed despite the shortage of staff in hospitals because PF’s agenda has been to enrich themselves and steal money that they can lay their hands on. They have now become father Christmas, they are making donations everywhere instead of addressing the challenges that the youths are faced with,” said Mucheleka.

“Mulenga is hallucinating. The gap between the rich and poor is growing wider. There are no economic activities taking place at the moment to indicate there is an absorption of youths into the employment sector especially in public sectors and the private sector. Youths should stand up and register to vote. There is nothing that is happening under the PF. They should not believe that is addressing unemployment.”

But in a seperate interview, Mwila said unemployment was a global issue but there was a commitment by government to resolve it.

“The government has given a programme how they are going to employ the youths. Globally, this unemployment issue is a global issue, it is about commitment. Is there commitment by the government? The answer for now is yes. Efforts have been made, even this permanent unemployment issue, government could have taken more people if only government had been granted that request by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to defer the Eurobond interest payment, if that had been granted, Zambia was going to use that money into recruiting our youths. Teachers, army offices and the police could have been taken. But unfortunately, that proposal was taken down meaning that government will not have money to put into the recruitment. So the effort is there except where do we get money from? The government is trying its best and they should be commended,” said Mwila.