Chipimo and NAREP: What’s in the ‘bag’?

By Bob Sianjalika

AS ZAMBIA draws towards the 2011 elections, more political events begin to unfold. Just recently, the National Restoration Party (NAREP) was born, joining the long list of other opposition political parties currently registered in Zambia.

Led by Lusaka lawyer Elias Chipimo Jr, the NAREP seems determined to assume the leadership of Zambia in future.

Mr Chipimo says he could have joined any other existing political party in the country at the moment but none of the parties impress him and none of them have the vision which NAREP wants to share with the people once elected in Government.

Two months after the launch of the NAREP, the party unveiled its manifesto to the country.

The manifesto has been made public to Zambians so that they could understand and visualise just what difference this party intended to introduce on the political scene.

NAREP

The launch of NAREP on March 2, 2010 did not come without comment from other stakeholders.

Some welcomed it as it would add diversity to the political climate and introduce constructive criticisms among political players in the country.

For others, the coming in of NAREP was just adding on to the already large number of political parties in the country that were not even adding any value to ordinary Zambians.

University of Zambia academician from the department of political science and administration, Phineas Baala said the launch of NAREP was unlikely to change anything on the Zambian political scene.

Institute for Human Rights and Democratic Governance director Franco Kapijimpanga equally believes most of the issues contained in the manifesto have been propagated before and not new to Zambians.

Perhaps we should look at the manifesto and vision of the NAREP to fully understand the purposes, rather the drive that Mr Chipimo Jr and his team have for the nation.  Is the manifesto and vision inspiring?

Manifesto and Vision

The NAREP would focus on Health, Education and Infrastructure as the core sectors.
The party would adopt a governance framework based on principles from a philosophy called the ‘Just Third Way’. According to NAREP, its ideology was shaped by the acute poverty and deprivation of opportunity faced by some Zambians.

The pillar of NAREP’s vision lies in the attainment of three objectives: implementation of efficient and effective governance, implementing measures that achieve greater energy independence and the implementation of a rural and urban modernisation drive across the country.

Under its governance programme, NAREP promises that it would establish a provincial and communal governance framework for civic driven change. NAREP would also reduce all central government expenditure and introduce efficiency through performance based accountability.

Accordingly, NAREP also promises to direct more resources towards promoting development at grassroots and community level and ensuring greater decentralisation and local decision making.

The party would also provide transparency into Government operations, expenditure and decision making. The whole process would involve a complete review and improvement of the structure of Government and bringing development decision making more direct to the people.

Mr Chipimo and his team also promise to restructure Cabinet and publishing performance metrics, targets and deadlines. They would also create communal assemblies with stakeholders at ward level besides the construction of infrastructure and proving training of people and ward levels.

In its manifesto NAREP proposes that its government would have only 12  ministers namely, Ministry of  Health and Human Services, Ministry of Education and Child Development, Ministry of Energy, mining, infrastructure and Technology, Ministry of Youths, sport and Culture, Ministry of Gender, Decentralization and Community Development, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Tourism Environment and Natural Resources, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Ministry of Defence and Security and lastly the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry.

According to NAREP, performance targets for each ministry would be made public and each minister’s performance would be gauged against the target.

On the civil service, NAREP states in its vision and manifesto that its key priority would be to incorporate broad technological platform for electronic governance (e-governance).

Under NAREP, the Government would operate on an electronic basis particularly with regard to accountability and the delivery of health, education and infrastructure development.

NAREP once elected into government, would also ensure that the civil society is retrained to enable it handle the electronic approach in the management system.

On local government, NAREP would bring the traditional chiefs in the national planning process and allow them to be more central in the decision making process of the Government.

Certain management functions of the local councils would also be outsourced such as planning, budgeting, expenditure, review and accounting. The locally elected councillors would have oversight of the process.

On the energy, NAREP’s manifesto refers its initiatives to the energy and agriculture sectors as the “Technograrian Revolution”.  It proposes energy sector independence and reduced reliance of imported energy sources.

NAREP believes agriculture is a tool for unlocking wealth from the country’s vast arable land while at the same time harnessing the abundant water resource.  The plan once applied would transform the rural landscape into active centres of major economic development.

Some of the benefits from the initiative would include, employment opportunities shifting from urban to rural areas, rural ownership of means of production, natural decongestion of the urban areas sustainable rural expansion, agriculture and industrial development of vast untapped land and the better productive use of the water resource across the country.

Energy

To develop ten energy sector, the NAREP manifesto and vision states that the party would carry out an audit to determine available land for the cultivation of sugar cane, Jatropha, sorghum, camelina, palm oil and other sources of bio-fuels on an industrial scale.

NAREP also plans according to its vision and manifesto to immediately undertake a study to confirm the feasibility of introducing a policy that would make it mandatory for every liter of petrol and every litre of diesel sold in the country to contain a minimum amount of ethanol in the case of petro and palm oil in the case of diesel.

This percentage of ethanol and palm oil could gradually be increased until Zambian vehicles have over 90 per cent of them running on fuel efficient ethanol blended fuel produced within Zambia.

NAREP also proposes strategic alliances with foreign manufacturing interests to promote the local production of machinery and equipment to support the industrial spin-offs from the new Government policies.

On infrastructure development, NAREP proposes that it will come up with modernized housing, hospitals, schools, roads and commercial recreation centres.

It also intends to have a land audit to be complete within nine months of commencement and made public

According to NAREP, once its manifesto and vision are applied, Zambia would become an energy super-power for the region, it would also become a breadbasket and hub of infrastructure.

But Mr Baala explains that there could be no other manifesto in Zambia that could bring anything new apart from what the existing political parties already have.

“I have studied the MMD manifesto, I have also looked at the PF and the UPND manifesto and I feel the three parties have covered everything that Zambians need,” he said.

He said it was unfortunate that Mr Chipimo and his colleagues went ahead to register a new political party when they could have looked at the various manifestos already existing and seek a way of harmonising their ideas.

He said as an academician who had studied so much about politics it was advisable for NAREP to join hand with others.

Institute for Human Rights and Democratic Governance director Franco Kapijimpanga said NAREP should focus on the leadership capacity building as a political party.

He said from the brief understanding of NAREP manifesto most of the issues contained have been propagated before and not new to Zambians.

Mr Kapijimpanga said for instance the proposal to reduce the Cabinet to 12 has been stated before by other political parties including the recently formed Alliance for Democracy and Development.

“Most of the issues raised in the manifesto sound historical but the idea of having more political parties is welcome as it enhances democracy and promotes the rule of law,” he said.

He said political parties should strive to bring value on the leadership of the country and not just focus on infrastructure and education as good leaders would always ensure sustainable development.

Conclusion

Most political parties in Zambia have set education, health and infrastructure as their main areas of focus as they intend to develop the economy once elected into office. NAREP seems to have joined this bandwagon.

Parties such as NAREP have an opportunity to prove their worthiness on the Zambia’s political scene by simply changing the approach in the manner of doing things.

It is still regrettable that Zambian politicians today attract more personalised debates rather than constructive analysis of national issues.

NAREP could also translate its coming on the scene as a mere statistics that adds no value to the existing environments.

From the above manifesto and vision, it appears NAREP does not give much explanation as to how it intended to widen the employment opportunity in Zambia apart from the intention to develop rural areas.

The manifesto also lacks detail in how the nation would generate the resource for the infrastructure development outlined. Much concentration however is put on the accountability and transparency.

NAREP’s coming on the political scene should also attempt to stop the growing phenomena of regionalism or tribal alienation that some opposition political parties have. The united spirit of ‘One Zambia one Nation’ should be promoted in a party.

Looking at what has been the trend before every election in Zambia, it is clear that more political parties are yet to spring up in Zambia.
NAREP has a challenge to make a difference.

TIMES OF ZAMBIA

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