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Government should lead national planning process

JANET ROGAN

Analysis: JANET ROGAN
THE United Nations in Zambia has supported government to analyse the Strategic Vision against the SDGs to make sure that the plan to implement it (which will be 7NDP Volume 2) is fully aligned to the Sustainable

Development Goals (SDGs).
We have also analysed the other regional and global commitments the country is obliged to integrate: the African Union Agenda 2063 (whose goals greatly overlap with the global SDGs with the main differences relating to regional issues); Rio+ and the Paris Agreement on climate change (of which Zambia is a strong supporter); and the Sendai Agreement on Disaster Risk Reduction (where even a country like Zambia, blessed to be rarely hit by major natural disasters, can find relevant goals in a region where others are not so fortunate).
The process underway in Zambia to transform national development through the SDGs and the other goals is of very high quality indeed and we would like to share it as best practice with other countries globally, for their own national planning processes.
I am particularly pleased to see the emphasis on good governance and a specific Technical Working Group on human rights, addressing SDG16. The UN commits to working closely with all partners in this working group. It is another innovation to be shared with other countries.
Innovative
It is the job of the elected government of the day to lead the national planning process on behalf of the people. Of course, leading does not and cannot mean doing it all alone and I am pleased to note significant innovations in partnership and outreach that are embedded in the new approach.
The sustainable development agenda recognises that no government can deliver the complexity of the SDGs alone and calls for a new concept of partnership that includes the public sector and the private sector, the UN, the international financial institutions, bilateral partners investing their overseas development assistance, civil society, academia, communities. This 7NDP fully reflects this new global concept of partnership that will of necessity bring new ways of working, breaking silos, requiring multi-sectoral approaches, reaching right down into communities for their participation, innovating to secure new sources of financing while improving domestic revenues. It takes courage to face the complexities of global sustainable development and bring them effectively down to the national level.
High standards: Inclusivity and Leave No-one Behind
A plan is for implementing and implementing well. This must be a plan that Leaves No-one Behind. All people in all communities across the country must be able to find themselves in the implementation of this plan, even in the famous Dundumwezi.
We have all viewed with a sense of disbelief the splits and partisanship that have for some years been emerging in mature democracies around the world, affecting their global commitments, and driving people and political parties into taking extreme positions at opposite ends of the spectrum. We are not immune to this trend even in Zambia. But, here in Zambia, I say to all sides that it is time to remove that divide. Taking sides is for election campaigns. Once a government is in place, it is time for hard work.
The 7NDP being launched today is the fruit of hard work by the government that has been in place under President Edgar Lungu since September 13, 2016.
It is the national agenda for Zambia. It is now the basis for prioritisation and expenditure of national revenues and resources. Government has three arms: the executive cannot deliver this complex agenda alone.
The legislature has a particularly heavy responsibility. All those who were granted the responsibility by the electorate to represent them in Parliament must play their part, and must be able fully to play their part, whatever their party allegiance, in holding the executive accountable; in providing checks and balances; and in providing good quality, properly scrutinised legislation through which the judiciary can service the governance of the country in the interests of the people.
The slogan One Zambia One Nation has served this country as a beacon, a guiding light, ever since independence.
In the interests of One Zambia One Nation, I humbly suggest to all sides that it is time to rise above partisanship and division because it does not serve the greater interest of the people. We must each set aside our own interest and think of theirs. This 7NDP is the agenda.
It must be the basis for peaceful, respectful national dialogue. Just as it is the job of the leadership of the country to create the space for that peaceful, respectful national dialogue, it is equally the responsibility of all others to step into that space to chart the way forward peacefully and respectfully, together.
The UN stands ready to support such a peaceful, respectful national dialogue.
Zambia truly remains a peaceful and democratically stable country despite all its challenges. Yet peace and stability can never be taken for granted.
The people in this country need this 7NDP and its promises to start to transform all the inequalities they suffer, through diversifying the economy; upgrading tourism; modernising agriculture; expanding the scope of mining beyond the mainstay of copper; diversifying energy production.
And investing in improving the people themselves – their education, health, good nutrition and clean water, their lives in sustainable well-planned rural and urban communities.
With a population reaching 15 million, we have 15 million reasons to leave partisanship and division behind, so we can get on with leaving none of those 15 million behind.
The author is United Nations resident coordinator.

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