Has the MMD delivered on its promises?

By Dr. Charles Ngoma

In a democracy, the people choose their government in accordance with that they are promised. In 2006, under the late President Dr L P Mwanawasa SC, Zambians chose the MMD party to form government. In less than 12 months, there will be Presidential and General elections in Zambia. The MMD has been in power continuously for almost 20 years. It is time to take stock. I will lay down what the MMD promised us in 2006 according to the MMD 2006 Manifesto. I will say nothing about how they have fared, but leave it all to the reader. This shall be the standard against which we shall assess how the MMD has done.

ON GENERAL ECONOMIC POLICY, the New Deal MMD Government promised to:

–          Formulate and ensure the implementation of poverty alleviation strategies

–          Focus on sustainable job creation and economic growth and development

–          Promote zero tolerance on all forms of corruption in the Zambian economy;

–          Continue providing incentives that facilitate and enhance greater private sector participation in the mining, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing sectors as well as create a risk free investment destination

–          Continue promoting public-private sector partnership with both local and foreign investors

–          Provide incentives for investment in rural areas

–          Promote export-oriented industries

–          Continue to encourage local involvement in high earning investments

–          Increase labour absorption capacity in the economy through, among other things, the provision of incentives for labour-intensive business

Beyond 2006 the New Deal MMD Government will:

–          Continue to maintain a liberal economic environment

–          Ensure the implementation of empowerment programmes aimed at enshrining property rights for domestic and business properties, including farms

–          Formulate and ensure implementation of legislation aimed at effectively empowering the Zambian citizens

–          Continue to attract foreign investment which could go into partnerships with local capital or engage in some linkages which foster the growth of local enterprises

–          Develop and maintain regional and sectoral investment profiles to quicken the pace of information flow and decision making

–          Continue providing concessions to investment with high labour content located in outlying areas and engaged in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism

–          Continue to engage, with the support of civil society organizations, in public works programmes which aim at improving the social, education and health facilities and physical infrastructure(roads, canals, feeder roads) with a view to making the areas attractive for private enterprise to flourish

–          Continue with prudent management of public enterprise and divestiture where appropriate

–          Continue supporting the growth of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, especially those promoted by the women and the youth

–          Continue to maximize the benefits of belonging to trade groupings (COMESA, SADC, WTO, etc) by promoting exports

Beyond 2006 the New Deal MMD Government will:

–          Focus on enhancing competitiveness and productivity of the Zambian economy through:

  • Continued provision of a stable Political and Democratic System of governance in the country
  • Continued pursuance of sound macro-economic and fiscal policies
  • Continued implementation of programmes aimed at the rehabilitation, expansion and continuous maintenance of facilitative infrastructure
  • Increased efforts aimed at the mobilization of both local and foreign capital for new investments in the economy

ON PRIVATISATION, New Deal MMD Government will:

–          Ensure that Zambians participation in the privatisation of remaining companies

–          Ensure that all employers in the country comply with the Zambian Labour Laws including the curbing of casualisation of labour

–          Continue to intensify the monitoring of the privatized companies to ensure that the new owners of these companies adhere to the conditions in the sale and development agreements thereby protecting the interest of Zambia

–          Continue to manage the privatization programme to support the creation of jobs by ensuring new capital investments

–          Intensify enforcement of standards and regulations, especially in the area of safety.

ON FISCAL POLICY, New Deal MMD Government will:

–          Continue with prudent fiscal management to avoid re-emergence of budget deficit which fuel inflation

–          Broaden tax base so as to increase revenue collection and minimize the tax burden

–          Continue to use fiscal policy as an instrument for sending appropriate signals to the private sector and civil society for the active participation in the allocation and direction of resources

–          Continue to provide various incentives to growth sectors of agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism

–          Continue with the prudent divesture of public enterprises with the aim of minimizing recourse to the budget

ON MONETARY POLICY, New Deal MMD Government will:

–          Continue the implementation of Financial Sector Development Plan( FSDP) in order to further strengthen the supervisory role of the Bank of Zambia in the financial sector

–          Continue with the Financial Sector Development Plan to encourage banks to increase the range of products and services on offer to their customers

–          Make the financial market more conducive to non bank financial services through the implementation of the FSDP

–          Reduce inflation levels to single digit

–          Encourage investments by reducing public sector borrowing

–          Maintain a liberal exchange rate regime.

ON PUBLIC DEBT, New Deal MMD Government will:

–          Continue to negotiate debt relief and for more cancellations

–          Continue working closely with the civil society in the campaign for debt cancellation

–          Continue to prudently use the debt relief savings to address constraints in the social sectors and in the reduction of poverty

–          Reduce the country’s dependency on external budgetary support so as to disengage from undue external borrowings

–          Resort to foreign debt only for projects with high potential to generate resources

–          Streamline the servicing of domestic debt to ensure that it does not impair the sustenance of local entrepreneurs who supply goods and services.

ON SECTORAL ECONOMIC PROGRAMMES, New Deal MMD Government will:

–          Provide a conducive platform for medium to long-term growth of agricultural sector, with its basic thrust of developing a vibrant, competitive and efficient agricultural sector, which assures food security and significantly contributes to income and employment generation, increased industrial development; export earnings and overall economic growth and poverty reduction.

–          Establish an improved and well-coordinated information flow, monitoring and early warning system to inform improved policy formulation and reformulation in a dynamic manner

–          The Early Warning and Monitoring System should encompass agricultural monitoring and forecasting, post harvest surveys, agricultural market information and vulnerability assessment systems;

–          Reflect on the recommendations of NEPAD-

  • Agriculture to attract at least 10% of the National budget by the year 2008.
  • Public expenditure on agriculture should be prioritized, targeted and monitored;
  • Improve farmers’ access to markets, improve rural roads, storage and market infrastructure; energy and communications; access to timely market information and contract enforcement.
  • Help to create functioning commodity exchanges that do not require lengthy licensing to export or import major commodities such as maize;

–          Create sustainable rural financial services by building capacity of profitable creditworthy microfinance institutions

–          foster the development of new approaches to lending, such as the warehouse receipt programme being piloted and extend the proposed credit referral system to agricultural credit

–          Contain livestock diseases by making adequate budget provisions for monitoring and controlling major animal diseases

–          Regulate and enhance supervision of private veterinarians and service providers

–          Promote and support strong farmer organizations and associations to provide a basis for sound agri-business and market linkages

–          Promote the creation of public-private partnerships for the development of vast irrigation potential that could support the expansion of the out-grower and contract farming and reduce dependency on rain-fed agriculture.

–          Continue to adopt a focused and targeted research into new crop varieties including GMO, disease control and drought resistant and flood tolerant crops including horticultural and industrial crops in order for Zambian producers to remain competitive

–          Continue the development of at least one farming block in each Province;

–          Promote establishment of private sector one stop shop for the provision of agribusiness services in all farming blocks; Continue providing extension services to farmers countrywide;

–          Continue the restocking exercise in the country( fish, animals etc)

–          Continue promoting the participation of women and youth in agriculture;

–          Continue promoting fisheries development of substantially improving yields of capture fishing by promoting sustainable management of capture fisheries resources and promoting aquaculture.

Ok, that is enough for now. How well has this government performed against these noble aims and objectives?

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