JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka
LAST week, President Lungu launched the 7th National Development Plan (7NDP), which is the country’s blueprint for development. The 7NDP will determine the course for development for Zambia for the next five years, up to 2021.
The 139-page document is imprinted with the aspirations and dreams of the 16 million Zambians.
The document had input from various stakeholders within Government, and is broad-based and all-encompassing.
The foreword to the document is written by President Lungu, himself. In it, he expresses his belief in the plan and confidence in the Zambian people to make it work.
“I am convinced that through our joint efforts during the next five years, we will be able to achieve the objectives of the 7NDP. I have confidence in Zambia’s ability to implement this Plan efficiently and effectively,” he writes.
The major focus of the 7NDP is economic diversification and job creation; poverty and vulnerability reduction; reduced developmental inequalities; enhanced human development; and an enhanced governance environment for a diversified and inclusive economy.
While the 7NDP may sound like the biggest plan on the table, it is in essence just part of the greater vision by Government to transform Zambia into a prosperous middle-income country by 2030.
And it has been designed as a building block that will help put the country on the right track to meeting the Vision 2030.
Hence, its theme: “Accelerating development efforts towards the Vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind”.
Government also hopes to use the 7NDP as a vehicle to fulfil the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are a universal call to action end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
The 7NDP also captures the vision of President Lungu of a smart Zambia that fully utilises ICTs for development.
And, of course the 7NDP also ties in with the PF’s pro-poor manifesto, which envisions an agro-based economy, rather than a mining-based one, with strong emphasis on agro-processing and mechanisation.
Writes President Lungu: “The goal of the 7NDP is to create a diversified and resilient economy for sustained growth and socio-economic transformation driven, among others, by agriculture. Furthermore, this Plan responds to the Smart Zambia transformation agenda 2064 and embeds in it the economic recovery necessary for the actualisation of a Smart Zambia. This is in support of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063.”
No national vision or plan would pass the test these days that does not seek a solution to one of the greatest environmental challenges facing mankind today – climate change.
In that regard, the 7NDP recognises the impact that climate change has on development and its threat to humankind in general.
According to the 7NDP, “It is estimated that the impact of climate change will cost Zambia approximately 0.4 percent of annual economic growth. It is further estimated that without action, rainfall variability alone could lead to losses of 0.9 percent of GDP growth over the next decade, thereby keeping a significant section of Zambia’s population below the poverty line.”
As a solution “…Government will promote the adoption of agricultural environment-friendly practices (climate smart and organic techniques,) such as conservation farming, crop rotation, less use of chemical fertiliser and creating public awareness on the adverse effects of climate change. Furthermore, since climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of disasters, the Plan has put in place strategies and programmes to aid communities to adapt to its effects through climate proofing their livelihoods, production and assets.”
Overall, the 7NDP is pregnant with both ambition and promise to transform Zambia and its citizens. Among its ambitious projects is to build a new capital city, more roads and to plant 500,000ha of forests across the country.
Government also plans to recapitalise various industries, among them Mulungushi Textiles and Kawambwa Tea Company.
The 7NDP envisions over 4,000 jobs in the textile sector, supported by 10,000 small-scale cotton growers across the country.
IT’S ABOUT YOU
But before you think the 7NDP only addresses inert things and is only concerned with the transformation of the country, it does also seek to transform citizens into better individuals, morally. And why not, isn’t human capital the greatest asset when it comes to economic development?
The 7NDP identifies moral decay in the Zambian society as a constraint to economic development.
“In terms of moral decay, Zambia for example, is ranked as one of the countries with high alcohol consumption and abuse. Despite having legislation on the sale and consumption of alcohol, there are challenges in enforcing this legislation. The effects of alcohol abuse result in low productivity, loss of man hours, gender-based violence and breakdown of family units. Such forms of moral decay negatively impact on individuals and the community and are a cost to national development.”
The 7NDP also seeks cultural transformation.
“In the recent past, it has been observed that there is an erosion of appreciation of positive cultural and indigenous knowledge in our everyday lives. This has been largely due to the negative perception of our Zambian culture as backward and primitive. Therefore, there is need to promote our positive cultural practices and indigenous knowledge, to foster national development while negating negative cultural practices.”
It also calls for patriotism, especially in the utilisation of natural resources and cleanness.
“This has been an indirect cost resulting from disease burdens caused by unclean environments, while not upholding sustainable use of resources will deprive future generations of their natural resource inheritance.”
The 7NDP also gives a clarion call for citizens to awake from slumber.
“Zambians have of late developed a trait of being docile and complacent in the business of their daily lives. This has made citizens accept sub-standard products and services and violations of their human rights. Therefore, there is need to inculcate a spirit of alertness, activism and active engagement based on appropriate and relevant knowledge.”
And it also aims at fostering good neighbourliness and nurturing of the extended family.
“Zambia has experienced a situation where citizens disregard caring for one another even when they have the capacity to assist a fellow citizen. This has resulted into the perpetuation of destitution and vulnerability. The breakdown in the extended family system, coupled with economic hardships, has further contributed to this situation where people have focused only on caring for their immediate family. Therefore, there is need to ensure that caring for one another as espoused in Christian values is propagated for the greater good of the country. A just society is measured by how well it takes care of its vulnerable population. This aspect of good neighbourliness ought to start at the household level and transcend to the national level.”
Even before its implementation, the 7NDP has been hailed by various interest groups, including Zambia’s cooperating partners, as one of the best in Africa. But like any plan, the 7NDP is just a plan, its real test will be in its implementation.
The 7NDP itself acknowledges the failures of previous national development plans, and President Lungu knows he needs the support of all citizens for this one to be a total success.
“I would therefore like to urge all Zambians from different walks of life to be fully committed and participate in the implementation of this Plan. I further call upon the National Development Coordinating Committee, Cluster Advisory Groups, Provincial Development Coordinating Committees, District Development Coordinating Committees, Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organisations, Faith-based Organisations and the ordinary Zambians to be pillars in the implementation of the Plan,” he writes.
The President concludes: “I am convinced that through our joint efforts during the next five years, we will be able to achieve the objectives of the 7NDP. I have confidence in Zambia’s ability to implement this Plan efficiently and effectively.”