JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka
AS ZAMBIA turns a new chapter in its developmental agenda with the launch of the 7th National Development Plan (7NDP), there
have emerged both voices of optimism, as well as those expressing pessimism about how attainable the plan is.
Truth is, the success of any plan can only be judged beyond its implementation, a process this newly-hatched plan will now be subjected to. Critical in this process, though, is the commitment of those charged with the duty and responsibility to execute the plan.
Government ministers, for instance, will have to match the cliché “Government is committed” with real effort in order to attain the vision reflected in the 7NDP.
By following this developmental path, Zambia is taking a road never travelled before, with unforeseen challenges ahead. And those in the forefront must be resolute in their quest to move the nation towards the set vision: A prosperous middle-income country by 2030.
As for the naysayers, to simply dismiss the plan based on the failures of previous national development plans, as some are now doing, is perhaps being a little too pessimistic and unambitious.
Notwithstanding, previous national development plans did not fully deliver what they promised.
Zambia has had three development plans since the early 2000s, namely the Fifth National Development Plan, 2006-2010, Sixth National Development Plan, 2011-2015 and the Revised Sixth National Development Plan, 2013-2016. All three development plans were designed to build on the Vision 2030.
The previous national development plans failed mainly on account of delay in funding for projects from the treasury, as well as insufficient allocation of funds towards projects aimed at human development.
The document states: “A detailed analysis of expenditure revealed that programmes were not funded as provided for in these previous development plans. This was partly due to funds not being availed on time to ministries, provinces and other spending agencies.
In addition, there was a noticeable mismatch between the programmes contained in the annual budgets and plans to an extent that even when resources were released for programmes, there were variations that led to resources being expended on non-core activities of the plans.
Further, despite the plans having increased allocations to sectors targeting human development, the allocations in the budgets were not sufficient to implement most development programmes.”
The main objective of the 7NDP is to transform the country from a primary product-dependent economy to a strong, dynamic middle-income industrialised country by 2030.
Planners have put in place the following measures to ensure the plan succeeds:
• Implement interventions to diversify the economy away from mining. The plan will also enhance programmes for social protection.
• Implement employment creating interventions that reduce informality and improve decent work conditions, with a special focus on rural areas.
• Re-emphasise the importance of the agriculture, mining and tourism sectors towards poverty reduction and employment creation by improving the incentives structure and removing the binding constraints to growth.
The 7NDP has five expected outcomes, as follows:
• Reducing developmental inequalities.
• Enhancing human development.
• Economic diversification and job creation.
• Poverty and vulnerability reduction.
• Creating a conducive governance environment for a diversified economy.
The 7NDP should also not be viewed as a Patriotic Front (PF) document, as it draws from a spectrum of wisdom across the nation. The 7NDP has an inclusive approach to development that must give all citizens a sense of ownership.
As stated in the 7NDP: “It is the aim of the government to promote citizens’ participation in issues that are pertinent to their well-being. Inadequate citizens’ participation is a hindrance to the progress of the nation at all fronts, namely political, economic, social and environmental. To successfully achieve the long-term vision of being a prosperous middle-income country, Zambia has to be inclusive in its development trajectory by harnessing people’s voices in augmenting the nation’s development agenda.”
Whenever Government creates a platform for citizens to participate in national governance, they must always utilise it, for that is one of the hallmarks of democracy.
The document is also devoid of partisan politics, with no direct mention of any political party on all the 139 pages. We must as a country depoliticise our development.
As in the old wisdom, surely there must be a time for everything, a time for war and a time to embrace.
There must be unity of purpose in our quest for development. And for the 7NDP to succeed, every citizen will have to act as a small cog pulling in the same direction.
The failure of the 7NDP will be a failure for all citizens, not only the implementers or formulators. We all as a nation stand to gain or lose.
As for the PF, the 7NDP will act as a benchmark on which its performance for the next five years will be judged.
It is, therefore, imperative for the PF government to fully implement the plan, especially that the implementation period ends when the country goes to the polls in 2021.
The hopes and dreams of the 15 million Zambians as captured in the 7NDP must not be dashed.