The move to scrap meal allowances for students suddenly and abruptly by the PF Government is shocking and irresponsible. At a time when the price of food and essential items are fast increasing as a result of the PF’s failure to manage the economy, Government appears to once again be intent on worsening the suffering of the Zambian people by any means.
This is a decision that will affect all of us as it directly damages our prospects for the future. These are the youth we expect to be the business leaders of tomorrow and help breathe new life into our economy and create jobs for others.
At a time such as this, one would have expected a responsible Government to actually consider upward adjustments of the allowances in line with the high cost of living, but the PF regime has instead done the opposite by completely cutting off a lifeline of support for our youths.
We are expectant that this will soon be recognised as being among the reckless decisions and policy statements the PF manufacture to create a crisis, only to U-turn and reverse it with the hope of getting accolades. We know that President Lungu might reverse this directive for the sake of gaining political mileage.
It is no secret that Government finances are tight and that savings must be made, but there can be no excuse for such cuts that impact our people directly and damage pivotal sectors such as education on which our whole development as a country depends until the frivolous behaviours of the PF Government have been brought to the end. The sacrifices should be the lavish ceremonies at Heroes’ Stadium and expensive private jet hire to New York, not support for our youth.
In fact, reckless decisions such as this one have the potential for far-reaching negative consequences, for example through producing half baked graduates that have been forced to spend study time looking for money to buy food and the fuelling of illicit activities in an effort to survive.
It seems that as time passes more and more Zambians are suffering because of the PF’s misjudgement. Panicked decision-making and policy making on the hoof have left industry, students, miners, families and all manner of people helpless to the whims of a Government in disarray.
Is the PF so out of touch with its one time supporters that is it does not see how families are already struggling to support their children and relative sufficiently so that they can pursue their studies in the hope of finding a good job thereafter? Now, with price rises of over 20%, thousands of job losses in the mining sector and beyond and continued power cuts, we are stretching too many too far. This is to say nothing of the continually delayed salaries of staff.
In the UPND we maintain that there is a colossal amount of waste under the current Government that can be cut so that we can invest in critical areas such as healthcare and education.