FORMER commerce minister Bob Sichinga says currently, government has no clear plan on how it is going to create jobs for the youths.
And Sichinga says ministries are struggling to function because government doesn’t seem to have a clear plan of action.
Meanwhile, Sichinga says some local fuel transporters have complained to him that they are being left out of business opportunities because they were under the false impression that he talks to President Hakainde Hichilema.
Commenting on a News Diggers editorial opinion titled “HH needs help with economic reform, concerns are rising” in an interview, Sichinga agreed with the newspaper’s views and observed that government had no clear plan on job creation.
He said the Head of State definitely needed help rebuilding the economy, arguing that riding on a programme which the PF started to appease youths was not sufficient.
“There is no plan as far as I am concerned. As far as I am aware, for example, on how you are going to create jobs. Where is the plan? What does that plan entail? The issue that of saying we are going to give the youths 32 tankers is not a plan, it was a programme that PF started to appease the youth. Now the major contributors to the change of government are the youths, so correct – it is important to support the youths. The question is under what programme? If you are concentrated on two tankers, is that sufficient to deal with the number of youth?” Sichinga asked.
“There is about 7.5 million youth between the age of 16 and 35 that are looking for jobs, they are looking for businesses, they are looking for contracts. Are you going to satisfy them with 32 fuel tankers? And who is controlling that? Who is managing that for them? Many of them have not gone to university, they have not gone to college, they have not had skills training, how are you going manage it, how are you going to do that? And also, you are talking about 7.5 million youth, the people that really caused the change of government, how about in other areas apart from the tankers, where are the other programmes for them?”
He said there was need for a clear job creation plan.
“They don’t have capital, they don’t have collateral, they don’t have finance and they don’t have as much skills to participate but they want to participate. So that programme for youth as well as senior people empowerment must be very clear, saying this is how we are going to create jobs. This is how we are going to empower Zambians, this programme you apply like this, and the consideration will be like this, and so on and so forth. So that plan of action for youth empowerment is not there. What we have is basically ministries picking up whatever PF left and going ahead and trying to say we are going to participate because we used to participate in this. It is not sufficient, it is not a plan , it is not cohesive, it’s not comprehensive. That is why I think your editorial was spot on,” Sichinga said.
And Sichinga said ministries were struggling to operate because of lack of a clear course of action.
“The problem we seem to be having right now is that there is no plan of action. When UPND was to get into office, there is no cohesive plan of action, a comprehensive and cohesive plan of action, there is none in place. So you will see that each Ministry is struggling on its own. Some with good intentions wanting to do the right thing but there is no framework around which all of them are operating so that we have a cohesive manner. Apart from the plan you need to have programs drawn out of that plan to say this particular ministry this is what we are going to do in order to achieve the duty of that plan of action,” Sichinga said.
Meanwhile, Sichinga said local fuel transporters had complained to him that they had been left out of business.
“Right now, the issue of fuel, who is delivering fuel into our country? Every single day, it’s about 750 tankers coming from Tanzania and another 7,500 tankers going out of Zambia into Tanzania and the same the other side going to Walvis Bay as well as Mozambique. Now who are the people carrying that load? How many of them belong to Zambians? And I am talking about not just political players who have disguised their contracts and are registered in other countries to disguise themselves, I am talking about people who are operating legitimate businesses and they are complaining. They are saying how about us,” he said.
“I am informed that they have cancelled the tender they had flooted for delivery of refined petrol for Indeni stores. Now some of the Zambians that participated certainly have approached me and said so how do we participate, you are the ones that talk to the President. I said well, I don’t talk to the President but I would like to hear what you are saying and they have said to me how do we participate, we have got transport, we have got tankers, we have got monies and somehow, we are always left out so, they have complained about that.”
He said the country had no programmes aimed at assisting locals to become serious entrepreneurs.
“There is no such programme that is aimed at assisting the locals to become serious entrepreneurs to participate in what is happening in their country. In my opinion, this is what led the PF government now to start giving their own friends and saying okay, ‘we will give you an order’. It was a corruption process which erupted to give their friends tenders to empower them. Nothing wrong with empowering Zambians, but that process must be a fair process that is spoken to all Zambians not just those that belong to political parties,” Sichinga said.
Sichinga, however, commended the UPND government for creating the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises.
“Let me approve and recommend the UPND government for having created a ministry for micro, small and medium enterprises. That was definitely needed because most of the citizens of our country are not at the level of large corporations. There are only sectional ones that are at that level so you needed a ministry that can be able to promote that where organisations like the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission can fit in. But it needs to fit in because that institution is already existing, it was existing even before the ministry was created and also the micro, small and medium enterprises is where most Zambians are, many of them are not sophisticated enough to say this is the way to run our cooperative,” said Sichinga.
“They need to be assisted; therefore, we need an institution like CEEC to assist them with plans, to assist them with finances and so on and so forth so. But even going further to higher levels where you are now moving from the micro, small and medium size enterprises to larger, you need to have citizens participating. Let me give an example, if you are talking about the mines, the mines and the people that come in mines here they don’t have cash sitting on the table from their own pockets. They go to the market and they borrow specifically for the programmes that they want to implement in our own country. Surely, Zambians can be able to do that as well but they need the assistance from government, they need capacity of government, they need the authority of government, they need the strength of the government.”