Policy analysis by James Muyanwa –
TODAY, we continue focusing on the manifestos of entities participating in this year’s general elections, as embarked on April 14, this year.
This is in line with what was done six years ago when 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.
That effort then culminated into my push for some of the economic provisions in the 12th manifesto which I proposed.
This year we intend to do the same and highlight some of the areas which the parties are leaving out.
Since there are 16 presidential candidates whose participations have been confirmed by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) following the filing in of their nominations, our manifesto would be 18th.
This is because another non-political entity, like us, has come up with its own, ahead of the August 12, general elections.
The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has codified the manifesto of the workers on whose basis it states will mobilise the workers to support election contestants who will commit themselves to it.
Therefore, today we focus on the workers’ manifesto as espoused by the ZCTU, having so far looked at the United Party for National Development (UPND) manifesto followed by that of the Patriotic Front (PF) one and that of the New Heritage Party, featured last week.
As expected, the ZCTU manifesto tackles issues in various areas including the social sector but this article will try to restrict itself to economic provisions, because of its nature.
The manifesto notes that about 15 per cent of the economically-active population of Zambia is unemployed, with the unemployment level being highest among the youth aged between 15 and 25 years.
Increasingly, it notes, the employers are employing people on casual and fixed-term basis as well as outsourcing arrangements.
The ZCTU, therefore, demands from whoever will form the next government in August, the creation of more decent work opportunities for its potential members.
This should include provision for productive and permanent jobs as well as enterprise development.
It states that in the next five years, the unemployment rate should be reduced from the current 11.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent and that workers should be left to enjoy their full rights without intimidation.
On the state of the economy, the ZCTU manifesto notes that even though Zambia was classified as a lower middle-income country 10 years ago, its economic performance has generally remained dismal.
It goes on to itemise some of the fundamental economic indicators, like inflation, the exchange rates, interest rates, debt stock and budgetary deficits, which are evidencing that scenario for the country.
“These economic conditions have led to adverse consequences on the workers in Zambia. They have to contend with shrinking employment and job opportunities, lower wages and salaries, poor working condition…” partly reads the manifesto.
Without mentioning any figures, the manifesto demands for broad-based economic growth that responds to the needs of the majority, especially the workers and people in the informal sector.
Like many, if not all manifestos looked at so far, the ZCTU manifesto calls for the diversification of the economy with emphasis on value addition.
It cites mining, agriculture and tourism as priority sectors in this regard, while calling on the government to come up with economic development projects which will be able to create decent jobs and help to grow the economy.
Examples in this area are the revival of the railway sector and development of tourism within the broader economic diversification pillar.
The manifesto indicates that the mining sector should be diversified to ensure value addition to the locally-mined minerals as opposed to exporting of raw copper, for instance.
The investors in the sector should be made to fully comply with local laws, including labour ones and, additionally, there is need to review and restructure the investment agreements subsisting between the investors and the government