Analysis: SUNDAY CHANDA
DURING the last seven years of the Patriotic Front government’s administration under the late President Michael Sata and his successor President Edgar Lungu, a galaxy of multi-sectoral stellar performances have unfolded for all to behold, and like the philosopher of old observed, it is easy to become so familiar with them taken for granted.There has been much false commentary and hypocritical analysis vis-à-vis the current efforts by the Patriotic Front (PF) government to forge regional and international partnerships to benefit all Zambians. Unfortunately, these false commentaries and hypocritical analyses have to a larger extent received a muted response.
Undoubtedly, in the relatively short period from 2016 to present under the leadership of the PF, both the government and the fundamentals of the Zambian economy have strengthened their capacity to be efficient, effective, resilient, agile, forward-looking and focused with the view to attaining the targets set out in the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP), Vision 2030 and African Union (AU) Agenda 2063.
This intervening period has also witnessed unprecedented levels of infrastructure development in Zambia in a very short period of time.
To the objective observer, the face of Zambia is quickly and positively changing through infrastructure development – the precursor of inclusive economic growth.
The aforementioned infrastructure development and the strengthening of the core sectors of Government and the economy have not happened by accident, but by design.
It has been as a result of wise, sober, resilient and deliberate leadership by President Lungu, and his predecessor, the late President Sata.
In addition to the 7NDP, Vision 2030 and AU Agenda 2063, the government is guided by its manifesto, whose intended end result is to “significantly uplift the standard of living of all Zambians”.
The battle against poverty and underdevelopment in Zambia is being won, but the war is certainly far from over. As a result, the government has set out as its task to build beneficial and long-term domestic, regional and international partnerships to bring about robust and inclusive economic development in Zambia.
Overall, the strategic partnerships being developed at national, regional and international levels by government are centred on some of the following:
i. Achieving national progress while maintaining peace and stability.
ii. Formulating and adhering to sound development policies, relevant in a Zambian context.
iii. Promoting balanced economic, political, cultural, social and ecological progress.
iv. Coordinating the implementation of national strategic policy documents and the PF manifesto towards the attainment of 7NDP, Vision 2030 and AU Agenda 2063 targets.
v. Stimulating and maintaining the momentum for stable and sound economic development.
vi. Significantly improving the living standards of Zambians.
vii. Fending off risks to inclusive, stable and appreciable economic growth.
In order to significantly improve the living standards of all Zambians, Government has embarked on several efforts at domestic, national, regional and international levels. For the PF, the war against underdevelopment in Zambia is being waged on all fronts, including the frontier to establish strategic partnerships at national, regional and international levels. These are briefly espoused in the following paragraphs.
INTERVENTIONS FOR ENDING POVERTY
Based on national priorities and targets espoused in the 7NDP and Vision 2030 while also being guided by its manifesto, the PF has identified several high-impact interventions to accelerate poverty alleviation and robust economic growth in Zambia. These domestic interventions include, but are not limited to, the following:
i. Investment in agriculture: The areas of investment by Government include inter-alia: input support, promotion of high yielding crops, crop value addition, agriculture diversification programmes, irrigation systems as opposed to rain-fed agriculture, and so forth.
ii. Investment in health: A nation is its people. Therefore, for a nation to develop, its people have to live long, healthy and decent lives. The Zambia National Health Strategic Plan 2017-2021 provides a solid foundation for the successful attainment of Zambia’s goal of being a prosperous, middle-income country by 2030. However, achieving this goal begins with transforming the country into a nation of healthy and productive people. It requires a paradigm shift and points to an all-encompassing dynamism in the management of health determinants by shifting the interface, which the public has with the health sector from the hospital bed to those who manage health determinants.
Investment in health include enacting the National Health Bill into Law to cover all Zambians while also building capacity of staff and strengthening health systems to combat disease, reduce maternal and infant mortality, and so on.
iii. Investment in education: The African Development Bank (AfDB) has stated that: “Good knowledge is the main driver of economic development. That is why producing, acquiring, sharing, and diffusing knowledge – through various channels and processes of learning – make it the most important of all public goods.”
The PF has embarked on its quest to build the main driver of modern economies and human development – knowledge and skills. Already, the landmarks achieved are commendable, even though more work remains to be done in this area. For instance, prior to PF forming government, there were only three major public universities in Zambia – the University of Zambia, the Copperbelt University and Mulungushi University. Since then, several universities have been completed while others are in construction phase. Prime examples include the Robert Makasa University, King Lewanika University and others spread across Zambia.
iv. Investment in power, transport and ICT infrastructure: There can be no development without suitable power, transport (road, air, rail) and communication infrastructure. Based on this sound economic thinking, Government continues to modernise and build the capacity of Zambia’s power, transport and communication infrastructure, through massive investment. The evidence is there for all see to see from Mongu–Senenga–Kalabo, and Solwezi to Chingola, as well as Kawambwa to Mporokoso, among others. The PF is demonstrating unbiased countrywide development.
v. Investment in safe drinking water, sanitation and affordable housing: Government is investing heavily securing safe drinking water, sanitation and affordable decent housing for all. President Lungu and the PF believe that this will prevent hundreds of deaths recorded annually – especially of infants – due to unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and inhabitable shelter.
vi. Investment in climate resilience and environmental planning: This investment covers all key sectors of the economy including building eco-friendly, smart cities.
To end rural and urban poverty through the above (and other) interventions requires massive resources and support – both in terms of financial and technical resources. Needless to say, the former is scarcer than the latter in Zambia. Hence, the need for Zambia to adopt a multi-pronged approach.
The author is Patriotic Front media director.
Analysis: SUNDAY CHANDA