On 18th May, 2011, The Post carried an article written by Guy Scott entitled ‘Elephant in the room’. In a well written article, Scott derided then Labour Minister Austin Liato for boasting that the government had created 20,000 jobs over the previous two years. The eloquent Scott helpfully pointed out that an average of 10,000 new jobs per year translated to an employment growth rate of less than 2% per annum (10,000 being 1.67% of the 600,000 formal employment figures at the time). This employment growth rate is of course lower than the annual population growth rate of 3% per year and the economic growth rate which is north of 5%.
Put into context, the figures Liato boasted about were less than impressive and the employment rate was actually declining. Liato should have been ashamed of himself and his government.
Fast forward to 7th March, 2014.
Now the country’s Vice President and leader of Government Business in the House of Parliament, Scott dropped a bombshell. Within two and half years of assuming office, the PF government has facilitated the creation of 600,000 jobs. At the rate we are going, each of the roughly 2.5 million households in Zambia will have at least one adult in formal employment by the 2016 general elections. With the election of the PF for a second term a foregone conclusion, Zambia should assume full employment by 2017.
By 2019 when Zambia hosts the Cup of African Nations, we will have expatriates taking up lucrative positions as check-out assistants at Shoprite and Hungry Lion.
This rosy picture is a true reflection of our future if the figures Scott alluded to were in reference to formal employment.
As they say, statistics don’t lie but liars use statistics.