PF has not created a single job

By Wessley Ngwenya

Allow me to share my views on the dire need for the PF government to create jobs NOW. As a Zambian and voter, I am not convinced there are any jobs that have been created by the government—let alone any visible roadmap towards job creation.

It is disappointing to note that the concept of job creation for the current government is to appoint relatives and friends to serve in foreign missions. Surely, the quality of these “diplomats” is embarrassing. Examine the various representatives that Zambia has at the UN office in New York, Washington DC, UK, Nigeria, Seychelles—are these the best brains that Zambia has? I don’t believe so. There are many qualified and capable Zambians who can be more useful and replace the remnants in these missions.
It is disappointing that, in Zambia, positions are created to satisfy or meet the needs of individuals. This government needs to stop the habit of “creating” positions so they can be filled by people close to the executive. It is no wonder the executive is determined to create as many districts as possible so that all those people frequenting Statehouse or lobbying for a position such as Tina Banda [insert your own name here] will be District Commissioners, etc.
It is also disappointing to see many youths, adults, women, children, the handicapped loitering around doing nothing in the streets of Lusaka. Many of them look hungry, disappointed, and angry that they cannot make ends meet. I wonder what goes through their minds when the President drives by in his motorcade. Well, never mind, he stopped coming to Kolima Tower after all and will probably never step foot there ever. These are the people who overwhelmingly voted for the president. They come from different parts of the country and are of different faiths and yet they all agree on one thing—they need jobs NOW.
Many people have argued that the PF government needs time to create jobs and I totally agree. I will not go into the ninety days debate. Here is the question. Is there one single job that has been created by the PF government since it came to power in the last thirteen months? [insert those jobs here] Those given to Wynter Kabimba and Willie Nsanda do not count.
The government needs to find a way of creating new jobs and motivating those in employment. I know someone who is a qualified nurse.
She has a Bachelors’ Degree in Nursing from one of the best schools in the United States and yet she cannot find a decent job here in Zambia. I know people who have given up practising as lawyers, doctors, economists, and so on because they cannot find meaningful employment or are totally discouraged since the pay is too low and are one by one leaving the country.
What is government’s plan to ensure that these people stay in Zambia and contribute to the development of this country? How about the people who are not “educated” and highly skilled? What is government’s plan for these people? I have a few suggestions but before I share those a few comments on what the government is planning on alleviating unemployment through the 2013 budget.
As far as the action plan is concerned the PF government missed the mark on addressing the “How”. The points the minister shared are shallow and lack depth and there is no possible way they can create close to one million jobs they claim they will do by 2016. In 2013 alone, there is a blatant lie that 200,000 jobs will be created. I can guarantee you that twelve months from now we will be lucky and I mean extremely lucky if 200 jobs are created because with no credible plan I don’t see how 200,000 jobs will be feasible.
Here are a few suggestions:
1.    Create local industries and put restrictions on importing competing products. I strongly believe that real jobs can be created if industries such as clothing factories in Livingstone can be revived. Meanwhile, impose tariffs and quotas on all imported clothing. Ban Salaula. Imagine how many real jobs will be created and how proud we will be wearing designer clothes, shoes and having handbags that are “made in Zambia”. I could even start my own label. How about a Wesley Ngwenya necktie?
2.    Agriculture, agriculture and more agriculture. This cannot be over-emphasized. There is clearly no plan by the PF government on how they will create 550,000 jobs in agriculture in the next five years with their no-plan budget. Here are a few points the government can pick up. Firstly, just like above the government needs to revive the dead or dying food production industries like Mwinilunga Canning Factory. Similar industries for processing fish in Western Province, beef in Southern Province, beans in North-Western Province, groundnuts in Eastern Province, tomatoes in Central Province and so on. This will create real jobs that will employ local people in these areas. In a similar fashion, restrict the importation of certain foodstuffs so that we can promote our own. This will mean that government has to proactively go out there and look for real partners who are going to work with local people. That is what those guys in the missions are supposed to be doing.
3.    Youth Empowerment. Zambian youths need to be empowered with firstly knowledge and skills. Ban exams in schools because they are not serving their purpose anyway. Introduce skills training as early as grade five. By the time they are grade twelve we will have young people who will invent laptop batteries that made from cassava powder. It is then that it makes sense to fund their projects using the Youth Empowerment Fund or Citizens Economic Empowerment Fund. In addition, can we have a law that will require every new investor to have a Zambian partner before investing in Zambia? If an Australian mining company discovers gold in Mtenguleni Village I should sure receive royalties by virtue of my heritage.
4.    Use the Railway Line for Copper Transportation. Please ban all truckers using the road to transport copper out of this country. This will ensure high productivity and increase in revenue for Zambia Railways. Imagine how many people will be employed between Livingstone and Solwezi (assuming a railway line will be done)? Feel free to include restrictions on other heavy goods such as mining equipment.
5.    Invest in Research and Development. I strongly believe that if our country invested in R & D we will be able to figure out how to do certain things such as make cheaper roads instead of using expensive bitumen or grow crops such as maize and groundnuts cheaply. This, in the long run will help us create our own products which will mean industries being opened and employing people. I cannot believe that despite the headaches that many of us experience because of ineffective governments no one has come up with some kind of Zambian painkiller. Or some kind of pot that makes nshima at the push of a few buttons. Now that is development. My wife would love that.
6.    Hire professionals as diplomats. I think that more employment would be created if the PF government hired real professionals to work in our embassies abroad. Depending on the country, there should be a focus on ensuring that they advocate, in those countries, for trade that benefits our citizens. They should relentlessly talk to the business community in those countries to come up and set up industries in Zambia. How about a Toyota Plant in Chongwe? Each ambassador, especially those posted in developed nations, should be given quotas to meet on how many jobs they bring to Zambia. Then those who meet their job quotas should be flown to Hawaii for a holiday and given a big bonus.
I think these are some of the few specific ways government can create 1,000,000 jobs in five years. Needless to say, this requires a professional and skilled cabinet, competent Permanent Secretaries and a motivated civil service. In addition, the government needs to utilize the private sector corporations doing related work as well as the Non Governmental Organizations. Please create jobs NOW! Zambia needs the jobs as of yesterday.

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