NEW Heritage Party president Chishala Kateka has urged the UPND government to come up with a short term plan to meet the immediate needs of Zambian youths and graduates in the interim.

Commenting on Finance and National Planning Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane’s assurance that the UPND government had a job creation and economic recovery plan, Kateka said the route outlined by UPND had so many “hoops they have to jump through” and would take long to actualise.

“When a party is voted into power, they ride on their manifesto and the promises that they made. This was a social contract between the UPND and the Zambian people and is the premise upon which the electorate voted them for. The UPND sold themselves accordingly to the Zambian people and were thus voted for. The Minister of Finance has assured the nation and especially those that have been demanding for jobs and in answer to former Commerce and Trade Minister Mr Robert Sichinga’s assertion that the UPND do not have a clear plan, that in fact, the government does have such a plan. He has indicated that the plan is to firstly, deal with the country’s excessive debt by going through an IMF programme. Secondly to increase and produce more goods and services. This includes increasing production of minerals. Finally, the jobs will come as a result of the above,” she said.

“The unemployed Zambians will just have to wait for this plan bearing in mind that the IMF Board only meets in May/June. After the IMF loan, whose conditionalities the nation knows nothing about, is approved, then we begin to bring in investors. Zambians are caught between a rock and a hard place. This route outlined by the UPND has so many hoops they have to jump through and will take too long to actualise. There needs to be a short term plan in the interim to meet the immediate needs of the Zambian youths and graduates.”

Kateka highlighted some of the measures her party would take to restructure the economy in the short and medium term.

She also argued that the UPND government was not aggressively pushing the boundaries of what was possible to restructure the economy.

“As New Heritage Party, we would reduce barriers to entry to trade and agriculture and other productive sectors such as tourism via amendment of policies and incentives – thus opening up these sectors to the average Zambians. To this end, agriculture, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and trading (buying and supplying) entail what we should be looking for in the short and medium term. Making these happen will become a game changer. These are after all what most Zambians are engaged in and are the biggest employers in the economy. In addition to this, as New Heritage Party, we would use the Zambia National Service as an incubator for thousands of school leavers and use this to get them off the streets into something more productive,” said Kateka.

“Bearing in mind the state of the economy, we as New Heritage Party, are of the view that the UPND Government is not aggressively pushing the boundaries of what is really possible to restructure our economy. The plan outlined by the Minister of Finance is too safe and too much of ‘in the box’ thinking to adequately address the issue of the dire situation we find ourselves in and the need for job creation.”