Tag: job creation

Job creation under the Socialist Party Government

Job creation under the Socialist Party Government

THE SOCIALIST Party (SP) will create employment once voted into power with a job-creation strategy centred around the three pillars of its social and political programme; education, health and peasant agriculture. Under the SP government, schools will not be run the way they currently are. We will provide free education from nursery at the age of three all the way to university, and it will be compulsory up to grade 12.

Education will be a major undertaking in this country and will be allocated not less than 25 per cent of the national budget. Under this programme, teachers will not be left to manage and run schools on their own. In order to have an effective, efficient, and orderly system, the running of schools will include other professionals and a broad spectrum of workers, such as human resources personnel, information technology experts, accountants, marketing personnel, cleaners, drivers, mechanics, gardeners, nurses, clinical officers, and catering staff, among others. Schools, colleges and universities will need to be supplied with all sorts of teaching aids and other goods and services, and these will be produced in factories by our people, meaning that education will directly and indirectly be one of the biggest employers.

The health sector will also be used to create a number of jobs. By expanding Zambia’s health services – both in terms of quantity and quality – we will need to employ more people. This will entail a need for more nurses, clinical officers, doctors, pharmacists, radiographers, and many other health and general workers. In addition, our government will prioritise the manufacture of some of the medicines we use, even under licence. We will also need to create factories producing health equipment of all sorts. This, together with many other functions that will be added to health services, will create many more jobs.

Another sector that we will prioritise to create employment is peasant agriculture. And when we say peasant agriculture, we don’t mean that everyone will be carrying a kambwili, hoe and be tillers of land. There’s an urgent need to transform the way peasant agriculture is carried out.

We cannot increase agricultural production with a hoe, that’s for planting flowers around your house and a few beds of vegetables to feed a small family. Our plans are much bigger than that and will involve many jobs being created in the agricultural sector because of the transformations we will make.

Transformative peasant agriculture under this government will need new equipment, that is; appropriate ploughs, planters, harvesters and other necessities. To produce these, we will need to set up factories all over the country employing engineers and their technicians, human resources experts, accountants, IT experts, marketing and sales staff, drivers, mechanics, nurses and clinical officers to ran staff clinics, catering people to manage the staff cafeterias, and so on. Of course, our reality, as it stands today, is that we may not have all the engineering expertise required to set up and run these factories. We may have to rely on expatriate skills while we train our people in our schools, colleges and universities.

We will also need to set up factories producing agricultural chemicals. These will require us to employ a diverse range of scientists and other staff. In addition, we will need to create factories that produce veterinary medicines for our livestock. This undertaking will employ scientists, technicians, HR people, accountants, ICT experts, marketing and sales experts and many others. The medicines produced will need to be administered by vets, working with lab technicians. In this way we will be creating more and more jobs for our people.

And, of course, peasant agriculture will need to be financed. This will require us to create a myriad of financial institutions, such as agriculture banks and insurance companies. These institutions will employ bankers, lawyers, accountants, IT experts, insurance personnel and many others, again creating more and more jobs.

The agricultural output produced by our factories will need to be delivered to our peasant farmers. This will create logistics jobs for drivers, mechanics and other support staff. Furthermore, the cotton we produce in Nyimba, Petauke, Katete, Chipata, Chadiza, Lundazi, Chama and other places, will not leave Eastern Province unprocessed. Textile factories will be established in employing people from all over the country in many, various roles. These factories will be producing reels of all sorts of cloth, but the cloth produced will not be exported as it is.

Clothing factories will be created to design and produce shirts, trousers, dresses, caps, canvas shoes, belts, and many other products. These factories will require sewing machines and needles so small factories will be created to manufacture and service the machines. The clothing factories will further need buttons and zips. The buttons can be produced from the horns of cattle, hard wood and stones, creating even more jobs. And the finished products will need to be packaged. This will require us to create factories producing packaging materials. Drivers will be needed to transport the finished products from the factories to the ports of Dar-es-Salam, Walvis Bay and Durban. Furthermore, delivery trucks will need to be serviced by mechanics. In this way, more jobs will be created.

Our strategies on cotton production and its processing and export will be extended to food crops. Small and large factories will be created all over the country to process agricultural produce. For instance, factories can be built to process tomato into jam, juice, soup, puree or paste. Some of these products can be exported, and some consumed locally, resulting in more jobs. In addition, it is important to also mention that there will be new jobs created in other sectors of our economy, such as mining, construction, forestry, and the provision of the many other services needed in an organised society.

Dr Fred M’membe
Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali.

The 2019 National budget is a futile and deceitful exercise

The 2019 National budget is a futile and deceitful exercise

The 2019 national budgeting exercise would have been comical – had it not been that futile and deceitful. It is essentially an exercise that has produced words without context and meaning; it is detached from the miserable conditions of the financial and real economy; it hardly addresses the plight of the working masses; and does very little to alley the fears of the already frightened international financial markets. An apparent mixture of panic, arrogance and sheer incompetence ends up producing a shameful budget. Once more, Zambia’s petty bourgeois leadership has out-marched its own record in all ways of destroying our tiny impoverished economy and the hopes of the 99% of the country’s population affected by policy failure.

Let us step back to last year (Friday, the 29th September, 2017). The then Minister of Finance Felix Mutati, delivered to the National Assembly a budget under the theme “Accelerating fiscal fitness for sustained inclusive growth, without leaving anyone behind”. The theme was carefully chosen to blindfold the international financial markets that wanted to see more fiscal discipline in the management of the Zambian economy as well as of the country’s citizens who were apprehensive of the consequences of an austerity programme that would accompany the awaited IMF cash injection. However, before the end of 2017, line Ministries were frantically working on and requesting for supplementary budgets. The IMF and the international financial markets were also signalling displeasure; they did not trust the implementation capacity of the government and more seriously, even the promises, the 2018 budget had made. In other words, the 2018 national budget had become obsolete even before the beginning of the budget year! Therein lies the major factor contributing to the accelerated economic misery we see today. Even by standards of other tiny, land-locked and extractive-based African economies affected by the global crisis of capitalism, Zambia is amongst the worst performers. Meantime, the leadership of the country continues merry making, contracting domestic and international debt, making arrogant speeches that “all is under control” as well as enriching itself in a kleptomaniac way from the spoils of an ill economy.

Coming back to the 2019 Budget; the Minister of Finance, Margaret Mwanakatwe, addressed the National Assembly on the 28th September 2018 under the theme “Delivering Fiscal Consolidation for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth”. This is a replica of last year’s theme. As it would be expected, the introductory remarks were targeted at pacifying the masses and appealing to the nation’s disturbed psycho-social mood: Adherence to the covenant with God is blasphemously brought up and the sovereignty of the country is underlined amid the widespread fears that the petty bourgeois leadership has auctioned off the command heights of the economy. At this point, the reader is severely challenged to marshal enough patience to complete reading the rest of the budget speech.

The critical sector policies and interventions, in line with the pillars of the Seventh National Development Plan, are a mixture excellent sequencing, i.e. the format, indecisive policy positions, misinformed regulatory frameworks and in some cases well-meant as well as properly thought through specific projects. Overall, it is a missed opportunity. It is also apparent that the technocrats drafting this budget speech did not have it easy. It is the equivalent of a salesperson trying to cover up product deficiencies with some reassuring words. It is a futile exercise.

Pillar 1 (Economic diversification and job creation) fares better under energy, regional and international trade as well as on the sub-topic of transport. However, even these areas are not free from the misalignment of policy, regulation and developmental projects. The sectors including industry, agriculture, mining and tourism show high levels of confusion and incompetency.

This is further reflected under Pillar 2 (Reducing poverty and vulnerability) and Pillar 3 (Reducing developmental inequality). Pillars 2 and 3 also suffer from heavy dependency on external technical and financial assistance, the fragmented (silo) approach in programming and pervasive corruption. This enhances systemic risk and compromises the possibilities of people-level impact.

There was a good chance to salvage some budget credibility under Pillar 4 (Enhancing human development). This includes education, heath, water supply and sanitation. The expectation here was that the 2019 budget would go beyond ring-fencing of funding under an austerity context and utilise the opportunity to undertake long-pending sectoral reforms that would improve both access and quality of services for the majority poor. Instead, the budget has adopted a “business as usual” and a “more of the same” approach.

Pillar 5 (Creating a conducive governance environment for a diversified and inclusive economy) focuses on macro-economic stability and creating space for private sector growth, labour law reforms and the rebasing of the GDP in 2019. Ironically, the very government whose actions have brought about macro-economic instability promises to wake up and stabilise the economy! The government that has implicitly and explicitly been anti labour should now be trusted to arbitrate and navigate the neoliberal economic laws that have stifled Zambian workers for more than two decades!

In summary, the 2019 budget and its goals are highly problematic:

1. A 4% GDP growth rate is possible. This will not be broad-based. The upsurge in the base metal prices will increase the contribution of mining and other allied sectors to this growth. Agriculture, with the largest potential for growth, value addition, job creation and poverty alleviation will continue to stagnate. Poverty will therefore continue to entrench itself amongst the Zambian masses.
2. Inflation will be difficult to subdue to 6-8% in 2019. Food inflation will shoot to over 10% driven by high fuel, transport and other input costs.
3. Further easing of monetary policy is unlikely. Lending rates will not fall below 20% and it is hard to imagine how our domestic private capital can thrive under such conditions.
4. Non-performing loans may go beyond 13% on the loan portfolios of the banks. There is less the Bank of Zambia regulation can achieve if the macro-economic fundamentals are highly skewed.
5. The current account deficit will continue to widen. Imports, interest payments and dividend payments to non-resident shareholders will continue to increase the demand for foreign currency and put pressure on the Kwacha. More external borrowing will be needed to merely stop the downward spiral of the Kwacha. The “carrot and stick” offered by the IMF will be hard to resist.
6. Gross international reserves will be difficult to push up to 3 months of import cover, let alone to 4 months.
7. Under this situation, fiscal deficit will prove difficult to reduce to 6.5% of GDP.
8. The biggest expenditure item is external debt payment. The biggest source of financing are the Zambian masses through personal income tax, value added tax, exercise duty that targets the consumers plus more external borrowing. In essence, the poor Zambians are paying back the external debt contracted by a reckless petty bourgeois ruling elite – apart from paying for the luxurious life styles.

With the economy poised in such a negative trajectory, political stability cannot be guaranteed. The knee-jerk reaction of the ruling elite will be to respond with more repression and state sponsored violence. Hard times lie ahead for Zambia. Neo-liberal capitalism has openly failed the masses. The time for a just, fair and equitable socialist society has arrived.