NATIONAL RESTORATION PARTY (NAREP) PRESS CONFERENCE TO LAUNCH THE NAREP EMPLOYMENT AND EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE
Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this important press conference that has been convened to launch the NAREP Employment and Empowerment Initiative.
My fellow citizens, the single greatest problem confronting our youth and our hard working women today is the lack of opportunity for employment and gainful enterprise. The Patriotic Front came to power on a promise of jobs and more money in the pockets of the people. The vast majority of Zambians placed their hope in this promise, believing that brighter days lay ahead. After a full year in power it has become increasingly clear that this was a false hope. As time goes by the sense of loss and abandonment has not only increased but it has crystallized into a deeply rooted frustration.
At a time like this, a new type of thinking and leadership approach is required – one that can harness the wisdom that lies in each and every one of us, regardless of age, tribe, gender, qualification or even political affiliation. A time like this calls for leaders who can think long and hard about the problems the nation is facing and commit themselves to a course of action that will address the most pressing need of our time. Remaining silent in the face of crushing unemployment, excessive load-shedding, increased gender-based violence, mediocrity, corruption, greed and neglect is no longer an option. A leader must now emerge to offer practical and workable solutions to the greatest of these challenges: unemployment.
The unemployment crisis
The crisis of unemployment looms larger than almost any other problem the young generation and our women face today. For it is from the lack of gainful enterprise and employment that social problems in Zambia have emerged and taken root: our young girls fall victim to offering casual sex for favours; they fall prey to prostitution, harassment and abuse – particularly in homes and places of work. Our young men become delinquent and turn to crime, alcoholism and unacceptable social vices. Corruption at all levels of business interaction has become an accepted means to making a living.
In the face of such concerns, a self-respecting leader would stop and ask: “What is this doing to the moral foundation of our nation”? You see, Zambia as a nation has never been younger. Half of our population (6.5 million people) is below the age of 16. Over 8.6 million people (66 per cent) are below the age of 25. Only 10 per cent of all Zambians (1.4 million people) are above the age of 45. Every year, we release over 300,000 people from our schools and tertiary education system adding to the ranks of the unemployed. With more people looking for jobs that have not undergone formal education, the number of entrants into the job market could be closer to 500,000. Seeking to create one million jobs within 4 years will not address this trend. Something more radical and bold is required.
The NAREP Empowerment and Employment Initiative
NAREP has developed the NAREP Empowerment and Employment Initiative which, if implemented, would create immediate jobs and help to draw many current and future vendors off the streets by promoting sustainable livelihoods. The initiative involves the adoption of a policy by government to allocate 10 percent of all its procurement of goods and services to youth and women enterprises that would also specifically target street vendors. This would in time be extended to the private sector.
Here is how the NAREP Empowerment and Employment Initiative would work:
- 10 per cent of all public procurement contracts would be channelled through youth and women’s enterprises
- Government spends over 10 trillion kwacha per year on procurement of local goods and services so it is estimated that this move alone would deliver up to 1,000 billion (or one trillion) kwacha worth of orders to youth and women’s enterprises each year
- In order to benefit, these enterprises should be made up of between 5 and 10 people and be registered with PACRA, Workers Compensation, ZRA, NAPSA and other such entities through an established youth or women’s NGO
- there will be a fast-track system for registering the youth and women’s enterprises with PACRA, Workers Compensation, NAPSA and ZRA) and vendors would only be required to pay for these charges once they had executed their first orders and been paid
- Members of these youth and women’s enterprises will be trained in entrepreneurial skills to enable them to deliver on these orders and training will be in all areas including basic book-keeping, accounts, managing a business
- In time, the arrangement would be legislated so as to make the system work more smoothly (registration, monitoring, standards etc)
- In order to deal with political interference an partisan selection for contracts, the system would be administered through 4 banks and financial institutions that would be invited to bid to administer the funds for procurement.
The benefits that would flow from this approach are numerous:
- Entrepreneurial training would suddenly become available to many of our neglected youth and women struggling to find something productive to do and this training would be tied to a clear economic opportunity to put that training to use
- Existing youth and women’s groups would be empowered and have a big role to play in coordinating their current and future members with regard to training and the running of workshops
- ZRA would be able to celebrate the introduction of informal business activities into the formal sector that currently operate outside it
- Taxpayers would eventually see the reduction of taxes since more people would be brought into the tax net allowing for an overall reduction of tax – currently only approximately 500,000 people (10 per cent of the country’s workforce) pay tax
Overall, the NAREP Empowerment and Employment Initiative will go a long way towards reducing unemployment and its negative effects on our society. However, this cannot be done successfully in isolation from the other areas in which we see continual failure like the ever increasing load-shedding and random power cuts that punish many communities across the country every day. An empowerment plan to create young entrepreneurs who want to be meat suppliers, fresh fish traders or barbers cannot succeed if their businesses are constantly being subjected to random power cuts that turn away their customers and destroy not only their supplies but their equipment as well. A baker or a small restaurant owner cannot run a successful enterprise if he is forced to pay wages beyond what his business can afford. We can all appreciate the importance of a minimum wage but we must be careful not to rush through new laws and regulations without careful prior consultation.
We need additional action on load-shedding, on infrastructure development, on weeding out corruption. NAREP has clear and coherent plans on each of these issues and we shall be sharing these with you as we mobilise support for our campaign for job creation.
We have set ourselves the task of collecting one million signatures to support the implementation of the NAREP Empowerment and Employment Initiative by 2 March 2013 a date which will coincide with the 3rd anniversary of the launch of our Party.
We ask you all to join us in our bid to make Zambia a better place for everyone be helping us to promote this initiative in colleges, schools, workplaces, churches, communities and homes across the country. Let us move away from the: “I can’t” mentality and demand a better country for ourselves. This is not something we CAN do; it is something we MUST ACHIEVE.
I thank you and may God’s grace be with you all.
Elias C. Chipimo, Jr
National Restoration Party (NAREP)
Sunday 28 October 2012