POLICY ANALYSIS by JAMES MUYANWA –
SIX years ago I looked at some of the economic issues which were being championed by most of the 11 presidential candidates in the January 20 2015 election.
This was done by looking at the economic provisions in the manifestos for most of the major candidates, including President Edgar Lungu.
That effort culminated into my push for some of the economic provisions in the 12th manifesto which I proposed.
That was merely to enhance debate and look at some of the issues which were being left out in the campaign debate then.
I wish to do that this time around again by looking at the manifestos of the participating parties and hope that by August 12, 2021 when the country goes to the poll I will have come up with one again.
To start that process, I would like to look at the United Party for National Development (UPND) one which was unveiled last week.
This will be done by highlighting salient economic issues being proposed in the 20-page document.
Broadly, the manifesto is anchored on 12 pillars which include aspects of the social sector.
The 12 key focus areas are to create quality jobs, to eradicate poverty, provide universal access to high quality healthcare, attain macroeconomic stability and prioritise areas of national development and invest in people through quality education and empowerment.
Others are to transform and diversify the economy to meet the aspiration of the people, reduce socio-economic disparities among regions, eradicate power blackouts through better management of existing facilities and eradicate government waste, corruption and strengthen governance;
The rest are to eradicate tribal divisions by unifying all Zambians and establish a durable constitutional as well as establish good governance norms that promote transparency, accountability, consultation and dialogue.
Obviously, some of these areas are beyond the scope of this platform which mainly concerns itself with economic policy issues.
The UPND says it seeks to realise Zambia’s aspiration of becoming a prosperous middle-income country through three main phases.
These phases are the recovery and stabilisation, the steady growth and take-off.
From August 2021 to the end of the year, the UPND, if elected, plans to firmly implement credible policies with five objectives.
The five objectives are to lower the fiscal deficit, restore market confidence, bring stability to the economy, enable a speedy recovery in economic growth and ensure debt management and sustainability.
To achieve that, the party plans to undertake three major programmes including economic transformation, which it says will be the overarching framework that will bring together our interventions in various sectors.
The other programme is in entrepreneurship, which it says will target the formation of a robust indigenous entrepreneurship base.
The last programme is in digital revolution which it says will involve deepening the digital and knowledge economy to leap-frog the progress towards the 2030 Vision.
Under agriculture and agro-processing, UPND projects increasing agriculture’s contribution to economic growth by increasing production for food security as well as agro-processing and manufacturing for both domestic and export markets.
To achieve that agenda, the party proposes to prioritise the agricultural productivity.
In that area, the manifesto states that the UPND Government will improve agricultural productivity to meet household and national food security enroute to becoming the regional breadbasket.
Gradually it will create a pathway to reduce dependence on harmful chemicals in farming and move towards more soil-friendly organic farming and use of natural soil enhancement methods.
That party will ensure access to affordable agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, chemicals and pesticides, and machinery.
The manifesto states that the government will partner with the private sector to ease access to, and ensure availability of low-cost finance to farmers and establish agro-input manufacturing industries in partnership with the private sector to produce seed, fertiliser and implements.
Other highlights of the document in the agro sector is promotion of establishment of permanent agro-dealer networks across the country and provision of targeted farm input packages through pass-on programmes, fertilizer, seed and appropriate farming.
The party says it will enhance agricultural diversification away from maize to mitigate natural shocks such as drought by growing drought-resistant crops and promote small and medium scale agro-based and non-agricultural industries.
We will look at other areas of the economic sector next and evaluate the manifesto on its economic provisions.
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