PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says his government will introduce specialised fast-track stolen assets recovery mechanisms and courts for corruption and economic crimes.
And President Hichilema says there will be an immediate stop to excessive public expenditure as a way of halting further accumulation of debt.
Speaking during the ceremonial opening of the first session of the 13th National Assembly, Friday, President Hichilema said there would be no sacred cows in the fight against corruption whether from the past, present and future.
“Our administration abhors corruption. We have a zero-tolerance policy on corruption in all its forms. We will wage war on corruption and not spare any expense to ensure that perpetrators are made to account for their impropriety. There will be no sacred cows in the fight. We will increase the benefits of being honest and the cost of being corrupt. To enhance transparency and accountability in our national affairs, we will review the policy and legal framework for oversight institutions to enable them to effectively fight corruption and economic crimes. We will increase funding and enhance operational independence of oversight institutions. Further, we will introduce specialised fast-track stolen assets recovery mechanisms and courts for corruption and economic crimes. We will also enact legislation on ethics and integrity for improved transparency and accountability,” he said.
And President Hichilema said there would be an immediate stop to excessive public expenditure as a way of halting further accumulation of debt.
“Over the years, government has accumulated massive debts to finance widening fiscal deficits. These debts have accumulated to unsustainable levels. Our administration commits itself to immediately stop excessive public expenditure as a way of halting further accumulation of debt. We will engage our creditors on debt restructuring to restore sustainability. Further, accelerated growth will also improve our debt carrying capacity. To enhance debt management and transparency, government will streamline reporting of debt to ensure full disclosure and strengthen public investment management. We will repeal and replace the loans and guarantees (authorization) act, cap. 366 of the laws of Zambia, to bring it in line with the constitution,” he said.
The Head of State said his administration would also strengthen and modernise institutions of governance to guarantee security, fundamental human rights, civil liberties and quick dispensation of justice.
“Our administration will enhance access to justice, ensure strict adherence to the rule of law and upholding of human rights. We will safeguard the rights of our people and protect private property. To this effect, we will strengthen and modernise our institutions of governance to guarantee security, fundamental human rights, civil liberties and quick dispensation of justice. The separation of powers among the three arms of government is essential to the upholding of the constitution and the rule of law. In this regard, our administration will strengthen and preserve the integrity of the principle of separation of powers among the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, as provided for in our constitution,” he said.
“Our democracy has become a shining example on the continent and the world at large as evidenced by the just ended general elections and the peaceful transition. Our administration will, therefore, continue to promote and entrench the tenets of democracy. To further entrench our democracy, we will implement electoral reforms to strengthen the independence of the electoral commission of Zambia. We will also reform the public order act to facilitate its fair application and prevent abuse. With respect to the constitutional reforms, government will complete the constitutional reform agenda, anchored on a broad-based consensus among all Zambians. Further, we will revive the process of expanding the bill of rights to integrate economic, social and cultural rights.”
Meanwhile, President Hichilema said the UPND Alliance administration would reform the higher education loan and bursary scheme to ensure that learners, especially the girl-child were supported.
The Head of State said under the new system, every deserving student would be offered an opportunity for education, even when they may be from low financial status.
“In the case of Zambia, our education system at all levels of learning has deteriorated over the years. This calls for immediate action to restore our education system to international standards and best practice. Our administration considers education, science, and skills development as an equalizer. We will, therefore, realign the sector to ensure that it contributes to job creation and economic development. Our administration will provide quality and equitable access to education for all. We will also ensure that the girl-child has an equal opportunity to access education by addressing the challenges faced by female learners. The education curriculum will be reviewed to ensure that it is in line with the required artisan skills and our development aspirations and goals of the country. Emphasis will be placed on entrepreneurship which will be aligned with the current socio-economic requirements in the country,” he said.
“We want to produce graduates with the ability to contribute innovations to industry, create jobs and wealth. Our administration will also reform the higher education loan and bursary scheme. The reform is aimed at ensuring that learners who have potential to excel, especially the girl-child, but are unable to afford to pay school or university fees are supported. This will be a departure from the prevailing situation where well to do and undeserving students are the ones benefiting. Under the new system, every deserving student will be offered an opportunity for education, even when they may be from low financial status. To further improve the quality of education, we will recruit and deploy teachers equitably to all schools across the country.”
President Hichilema said government would implement policy measures to promote economic transformation, create jobs and reduce poverty.
“Economic transformation will be the overarching framework that will bring together interventions in the various sectors of the economy to create jobs and reduce poverty. To this end, government will implement policy measures to promote economic transformation, particularly in job rich sectors of agriculture, mining, tourism, energy, commerce and industry, green economy, transport as well as information and communication technology. We have readily available domestic, regional and international markets for our agricultural commodities. Investing in this sector, therefore, guarantees significant improvements in the lives of the majority of our people. To this end, government will implement a comprehensive agricultural transformation programme with the aim of making the sector a viable commercial undertaking. Government will review the existing agricultural policies.” he said.
“The mining sector will continue to play a key role in accelerating economic growth. Despite our long mining history and large mineral resource endowment, Zambia still faces a number of challenges in the sector. These include low levels of local participation and ownership, lack of transparency and accountability as well as inconsistent fiscal policy. Our administration is determined to ensure increased local participation and ownership in the sector, more jobs being created, as well as increased investments in the mining sector. Harnessing the opportunities available in the mining sector will be crucial to our economic revival. We will ensure increased copper and other mineral production, as well as maximising the benefits from various minerals such as gold, cobalt, manganese among others.”
President Hichilema further said government would implement structural and financial reforms at ZESCO in order to improve financial sustainability.
“To attract more investment in the electricity sub-sector, our administration will put in place cost-reflective tariffs. We want more of our people to have access to electricity by scaling up investments in off-grid green energy solutions. We want to transform our country into an electricity hub for the region. We will, therefore, continue to invest in the expansion of electricity generation, minimize transmission and distribution losses as well as develop power interconnectors with other countries. Our aim is to create excess capacity needed to effectively end load shedding with surplus power for export. To improve operations, efficiency and financial sustainability of the national power utility company, ZESCO Limited, our administration will implement structural and financial reforms,” he said.
“Our administration recognises that trade and industry plays a key role in economic development as it is the bridge that connects producers of goods and services to the consumers. The sector has a huge potential for job and wealth creation, poverty reduction and revenue generation for our country. To this end, we will pursue an export-led trade strategy that will focus on continuous improvement in the competitiveness and quality of our exports. Government will place the private sector at the centre of production and trade as an engine of growth. We are committed to improving the relationship with the private sector and increase the participation of Zambian businesses in regional and global value chains. This will enhance the contribution of trade and industry to job creation and economic growth.”
Meanwhile, President Hichilema said his administration would further enhance the provision of social protection to the poor and vulnerable in society.
“Indeed, we will further enhance the provision of social protection to the poor and vulnerable in our society. It is in this regard that the theme of my address is ‘creating a united, prosperous and equitable Zambia: restoring economic growth and safe-guarding livelihoods.’ The theme calls on all of us to unite regardless of our political affiliation, ethnicity, religion and gender. There is strength in unity. We need to focus on what unites us and not what divides us as a people. We are determined to usher in an era where politics are used to strengthen rather than weaken our unity. We are determined to make our national motto of ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ a reality and not just a mere slogan,” said President Hichilema.
“We all desire a prosperous and equitable society. The levels of poverty in our country are unacceptably high. We must end the vicious cycle of poverty and bring prosperity to all. We will work to reduce various forms of inequality and create a more equitable society. We will safeguard the livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable in our society. We will provide equal opportunities for development to all our citizens. The theme also reflects our desire to reverse the current economic down-turn. We will accelerate economic growth and create opportunities for all. We will increase access to quality education and healthcare as well as water and sanitation services. In addition, we must sustain livelihoods; ensure affordable cost of living as well as food and nutrition security for our people.”