By Sunday Chilufya Chanda
Owing to the rising levels of poverty and unemployment especially as it relates to the youth of Zambia, the placing of youth-related matters such as job creation and entrepreneurship and subsequently, the lack of any concrete plans to address the growing social problem, a need-driven initiative has been birthed to push institutions of Government, including the Executive and Legislature to focus on creating jobs and putting more money in young people’s pockets.
The initiative known as RED CARD CAMPAIGN FOR YOUTH JOBS is cutting across political party affiliation, sex, and educational background and seeks to grow into a mass movement of youth determining and charting their own destiny. The Campaign will push the Government to deliver practical jobs and job opportunities for young people through ensuring that they have the right policy frameworks which support and attract labour-intensive and capital intensive projects favouring youths. The youth agenda should not just be subjected to piece-meal interventions but seeks long-term solutions to specific challenges facing youths such as street vending and the lack of a policy that inhibits them from making significant progress.
In the next 30 days, the campaign will demand that the PF Government comes up with a permanent solution to street vending. It is immoral that hard-working youths who cannot be afforded space to trade from should be pushed and chased from one street to the next. In the next 30 days, we will be reminding the PF Government not to pay a deaf ear to the majority youths who voted for it. They have a moral obligation to deliver to this constituency. Of course we do not expect them to deliver everything at a goal but we demand that they start looking like they are serious about delivery to the youths. In the next 30 days, we will press the Government to ensure that a Jobs Bill is taken to Parliament and mechanisms must be in place to show in quantifiable terms how they hope to reward the youth vote.
On Youth Day, the RED CARD CAMPAIGN ON YOUTH JOBS is calling on all youths across the country to march for Jobs. The message must be very clear because this day belongs to the youth. Instead of matching past the President or any Government official and later fed with a speech written on their behalf by technocrats, the Youth have it upon themselves to ensure their message is loud and clear: A JOB IN MY LIFE TIME! It is only fair that the Government must get serious about creating an environment that rewards youths with jobs and job opportunities.
The RED CARD CAMPAIGN ON YOUTH JOBS is calling on Government to re-introduce the Mining Windfall Tax so that part of the revenue can go towards empowering existing and emerging youth entrepreneurs in the country. We are disappointed that the Government has resolved to remain silent over some of the hot issues it stood on while in the Opposition. We will not give the PF Government any room for them to sell-out the Youth Jobs Agenda which it used to entice youths to give it a vote.
Much as we appreciate any broad-based and comprehensive fight against corruption, we believe that this fight must not be at the expense of creating jobs for youths. Unemployed youths, including graduates from our universities and colleges are not going to eat the fight against corruption. Instead of the President turning his entire Cabinet into a Commission of Inquiry into ‘Corruption’, let him leave the fight against corruption with the law enforcement agencies and let him concentrate on creating Jobs for youths and bringing about the desired development. It is time that Youth Jobs became part of President Sata’s agenda.
To this effect, we are calling on President Sata to establish a President’s Jobs Commission to, among other things, advice him on continuing to strengthen the national economy and how Zambia can take advantage of its geographical positioning as a land-linked country to become more competitive and more importantly on ways to create youth jobs, opportunity, and prosperity for the younger generation. We demand a President’s Act on Youth Jobs and this is the only way that the youth will get their fair share of the national cake. In all this, we expect that the ministry of Youth and Sports will raise their standards, open up to dialogue and cooperation. It is important for the Ministry of Youth and Sports to spearhead an inter-ministerial body to look at ways to create youth jobs and opportunities. During the course of the year, the Campaign will bring together youths from different parts of the Country for a Youth Employment Summit to ensure we audit youth employment creation and recommend measures for the Government to undertake. As a mass action, the Campaign will also picket Parliament and petition the Republican President on key issues affecting youths in the country. Deliberate interventions such as the youth rallies will be organized across the country to create awareness. We also demand that President Sata rescinds his decision to cluster labour with Broadcasting and Information. Zambia’s labour issues are immense and these needed to be handled by a standalone ministry. In fact, the new ministry of broadcasting, information and labour will fail because of the complex issues that labour deals with and an over-burdened minister will score zero. Let him create the Ministry of Labor due to the magnitude of labour challenges and functionality, so it can regulate all labour laws in the country. The decision by the President brings into question government’s commitment to this crucial ministry after campaigning on a platform that’s focused on the plight of every worker and job creation for youths. I think that the President was ill-advised on this and must reconsider his decisions.
We have also noted with regret that the Republican President Michael Chilufya Sata has failed to act on Hon. Chishimba Kambwili’s unbecoming behavior but instead has disjointed labour from the youth of Zambia. Kambwili has all the marks of the first minister to be fired from the PF Government but the President refused to act in national interest. He should have been fired. This decision could also mean that the President is scared of some of his ministers or he favours them, compared to others. President Sata needed to gather courage and fire Kambwili instead of retaining him in the Cabinet at great cost to the taxpayer considering the costs to be involved by the Kambwili-caused restructuring. Kambwili lacks what it takes to be Cabinet Minister unless he can work on himself and learn that hooliganism has its place. President Sata will soon be embarrassed by the same untouchables of his.
The so-called restructuring of ministries is a clear indication that Government’s policy is in a mess. How do we have tourism joined together with foreign affairs? Foreign affairs is concerned with international relations as well as helping to form and implement Zambia’s foreign policy. Of course with a simplistic understanding of both Tourism and Diplomacy, one would think they have a lot in common but the opposite is true.
Why should we go to all these lengths, moving the labour budgetary allocation and staff to Information and Broadcasting, and further moving the tourism budget and staff to foreign affairs? This is besides the new letterheads that will have to be done for all the ministries? Is this not Governance made simple? Why should the President create new ministries without seeking Parliament approval? It is very hard to understand where and what policies the Government is implementing. To drive the youth agenda, we need a strong labour policy, away from cheap politicking. This is what President Sata has deprived the youth of Zambia with just to save Chishimba Kambwili’s job and political career.
Sunday Chilufya Chanda is the coordinator for RED CARD CAMPAIGN ON YOUTH JOBS