THIS week I am ruminating on matters of labour and employment from the resort district of Siavonga in Southern Province where I have been invited for a special assignment.
I am continuing to dissect the manifestos of political parties taking part in the August 11, 2016, general elections with particular interest in labour and industrial relations.
I must admit that it has not been easy for me to obtain these salient documents from the parties since, so far, I have only managed to get copies of manifestos from the United Party for National Development (UPND), the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), and, now, the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD).
I have in previous articles indicated the enormity of the responsibilities hanging on the parties which should clearly state their positions on job creation and protection of the interests of workers in the country.
Since I have already highlighted the UPND’s employment strategy using its 10-point plan for 2016-2021, and the PF’s stance on labour and industrial relations, I will, this week, focus on the vision of the FDD on labour and employment issues.
The FDD begins by stating that its manifesto is a binding contract between the Zambian people and “the FDD government for the next five years”.
The party, led by former Finance minister Edith Nawakwi, says the contractual points outlined in the document underpin the principal obligation of the FDD government to the Zambian people on one hand, and forms the basis of what the people can expect of their future government, on the other.
It has pledged to decentralise Government administration under the theme ‘Let the people govern’.
Apart from this step, the party has pinned its manifesto on 14 other key areas which include poverty reduction as a primary objective, and restoration of people’s confidence in the integrity of Government and public office holders.
The FDD is promising to eradicate hunger and food insecurity, besides revitalising manufacturing and industrial production.
According to the party, manufacturing and the industrial sectors in Zambia have deteriorated substantially and in the process denying the country a useful source of wealth creation and employment.
The party has pledged commitment to improving health service delivery, just like it is seeking to build a knowledgeable nation through better education standards.
It is seeking to provide a secure and safe environment for Zambians, declaring a strong resolve to tackle crime and insecurity.
Perhaps a point of note is the FDD’s determination to adopt zero tolerance on corruption, the cancer that eats away at the economic and moral fibre of a country and, as a dire consequence, deprives citizens of employment opportunities.
But within the document are two elements which have aroused my interest. The FDD has promised to restore the dignity of pensioners.
“The current treatment of pensioners is a national scandal which should be addressed,” states the document.
As a way to reverse the existing situation, the FDD has set its sights on liquidating all the money owed by the Government to pension schemes within 18 months.
The party will seek to review pensions annually to make them more meaningful in sustaining the recipients.
The FDD is also contemplating the use of highly indebted poor countries (HIPC)’s savings to create and sustain credible social security schemes for Zambia.
In a bid to create ‘real’ jobs, the party has undertaken to encourage private investment that creates jobs through the provisions of right incentives.
It has pledged to give priority to Zambian businesses and contractors in all sectors in the awarding of Government tenders and contracts at the levels of central Government and district administration through competitive bidding.
The FDD holds that it will safeguard jobs for Zambians and only allow foreign workers who provide skills and expertise not locally available.
It says it will re-orient the functions of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to focus on employment generation, creation and retention.
If it formed Government, an FDD administration would assist local companies’ capacity to grow and generate jobs by dismantling Government’s indebtedness to them.
The party is seeking to promote labour-intensive programmes to create jobs in the rural areas, and implement the principle of equal pay for equal work as a way to retain and attract back Zambian professionals.
Promoting the growth and developing micro and small enterprises is another method the FDD wants to use to create jobs.
Dear readers, like I have indicated in my previous articles, this platform is open to all the parties taking part in the 2016 general elections so that they share their aspirations for the electorate.
For those who did not manage to go to the Zambia International Trade Fair in Ndola, I hope you followed what was taking place either on television or through radio interviews.
I am confident that you learnt something from this year’s show held under the theme, ‘Enhanced value addition for job creation’.
Let us keep the link open as we share issues on labour and employment.
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