Zambia: Economic Policies Review - PF's Remedy to Empower Zambians

ZAMBIA aspires for greater economic growth and sustainable development which requires well-articulated policy and regulatory coherence.

The country needs a focused comprehensive development plan, mapped strategies, projects, programmes, and policies in order to achieve the required growth and sustainable development.

It is against this background that when there was a change of Government last year, a number of policies are being reviewed in line with the Patriotic Front (PF) manifesto, Vision 2030 and Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP) for 2011-2015.

In the last 12 months, several policies have been under review which includes gender, labour laws, tourism, education, Zambia Wildlife Authority Act and Youth.

The PF manifesto seeks to address and remedy the fore-going failures by the previous regime using locally driven social and economic initiatives through the empowerment of Zambians.

The ruling party will seek to promote an inclusive government and open doors to stakeholders in running the affairs of the State.

Social justice shall form the core business of the PF Government in its domestic and foreign policy.

According to Vision 2030, Zambians, by that time, should live in a strong and dynamic middle-income industrial nation that provides opportunities for improving the well-being of all, embodying values of socio-economic justice, underpinned by the principles of gender responsive and sustainable development

The other principles include democracy, respect for human rights, good traditional and family values, positive attitude towards work, peaceful co-existence and private-public partnerships.

The SNDP seeks to accelerate infrastructure development, economic growth and diversification; promote rural investment and accelerate poverty reduction and enhance human development.

Gender

In reviewing the Gender Policy, Government wants to reform, strengthen and implement relevant laws and other policies that promote gender values in accordance with international requirements and standards.

Government recognised the need for equal and full participation of women and men at all levels of national development.

Therefore, in order to attain its full vision of gender equality, Government is reviewing the National Gender Policy.

In view of the cross-cutting nature of gender, implementation of National Gender Policy will entail that all socio-economic policies, programmes, plans, projects and national budget are gender responsive.

Deliberate efforts will be employed to ensure that barriers that prevent equal and effective participation of women and men in the formal and informal education and employment sectors are removed.

The policy will facilitate the repeal and amendment of legislation that hinder women's success and control over productive resources such as land, credit, information and technology.

Government will endeavour to sustain the provision of accessible, affordable and quality social welfare services in areas such as water and sanitation, health and housing.

In addition, Government will devise more poverty alleviation and reduction strategies and programmes as well as simplify procedures for accessing the above, especially by women.

Government is committed to the attainment of its vision of gender equality.

However, the full realisation of this vision is dependent upon the commitment of all stakeholders, including individual citizens.

The formulation of the National gender Policy was subjected to a comprehensive consultative process with various stakeholders.

This consultative process started with the formation of an inter-ministerial task-force comprising representatives of various government ministries.

The work of the task force was complemented by independent consultants who were engaged to draft a policy framework.

Labour laws

The Zambian labour market has faced a lot of challenges, dating back to the liberalisation of the country's economy from the early 1990s.

Since then, there has been a steady growth in the use of casual labour, fixed term contracts, and workers engaged through private employment agencies.

The influx of foreign expatriates doing jobs that can be done by local people has been a source of concern to both Government and other stakeholders.

In the recent years, revising labour laws have been largely slow, and in some cases did not represent government policy or labour market players.

Government's goal is to construct a legal framework that will play a positive role in protecting fundamental human rights at work, in promoting employment and economic growth, and improving labour market performance.

The Government wants to particularly address the adverse effects of changes in the labour market on the lives of working people.

Tourism

The tourism sector is guided by the Tourism Policy (1999) and the Poverty Reduction Strategy (2002) which stresses the importance of tourism development as a means of reducing poverty with special focus on rural areas.

The goal of the policy is to facilitate the development of a diversified, sustainable and regionally competitive tourism industry and ensure a quality environment and sustainable utilisation of heritage and natural resources.

However, the tourism industry in its existing state has failed to make any meaningful contribution to the country's national development due to several factors which include infrastructure that is either poor or in the wrong place and uneconomical routes.

Other factors include poor marketing of Zambia as a tourist destination of choice, unstable exchange rates and other cost factors leading to the cost of a bed night in Zambia being the highest in the Southern African region.

As a result, the country is one of the most expensive and least known destinations for any visiting tourist in the Southern African region.

Additionally, the failure to control the human-animal conflict in Game management areas is another factor that has led to increased levels of hunger and poverty.

It is against this background that Government decided to review the policy in an effort to respond to the changing trends in the tourism business environment and make the country a tourism prime destination in Africa.

The policy under formulation is one that would take into account three sub sectors which include hospitality, tourism, arts and culture.

The other focus areas will be tourism promotion and marketing, product development, and human skills development.

Further, Arts and Culture will focus on the provision of requisite infrastructure and skills for the promotion of creative industries for socio-economic development and preservation of Zambia's cultural heritage.

In the PF Manifesto, Government wants the sector to contribute to increasing the Gross Domestic Product per capita within a short period of time, thus contribute to employment creation and opportunities.

Government wants the new policy to promote growth resource based on tourism which is environmentally sustainable and should be accessible to future generations.

Enhancing employment of village scouts to ensure rural employment opportunities and incomes are some of the issues Government wants to work on in the new policy.

Promotion of well targeted government investment in infrastructure development and opening up new tourist sites in and establishing collaborations with the private sector to introduce economic routes by road and air to viable tourist destinations are being taken care of in the new policy.

Cultural and ethno-tourism will be promoted in all provinces in order to create job opportunities in the rural areas.

The policy will seek to promote collaborate Government with the private sector so as to enhance the marketing of the sector locally and internationally and introducing regulations to address the human-animal conflict in game management areas so as to protect wildlife and local communities.

Establishing a wildlife and tourism research and training institute to enhance local skills in the sector are among issues considered in the new policy.

Education

In an effort to promote girl education, Government introduced a re-entry policy which allows pregnant girls to continue with learning even after giving birth.

Judicial reforms

Government embarked on judicial reforms because it is believed that some judges were performing while others failed despite working under the same difficult conditions, a situation that compromised that the judicial system.

So far, there are a number of changes taking place in the judiciary where some judges have been appointed and more lawyers being admitted to the bar.

Computerisation of court rooms will enhance service delivery in the judicial set up.

An effective Judiciary will not only expedite justice delivery but also contribute to decongesting jail cells because a lot of cases would be disposed off on time unlike the current scenario where some suspects have been detained for too long with trial.

ZAWA Act

The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Act is being reviewed because it works against some traditional practices such as wearing of ivory bangles is one such traditional practice affected by the ZAWA Act.

The people in Western Province had been wearing ivory bracelets for a long time and that ZAWA had not sensitised such people to register their bangles in line with the current Act.

The Zambia Wildlife Authority in its current form under the Zambia Wildlife Act of 1998 has been extorting exorbitant fees from tourism operators and has also not been honouring its financial obligations of sharing fees with local communities in the Game Management Areas.

Youth

The national youth policy under review will provide a basis on which government and cooperating partners would address issues of education and the provision of economic opportunities for young people in the country.

To achieve that, Government is in the process to establish a general policy framework which will provide guide lines on all matters related to youth development and reduce youth unemployment through the promotion of self-employment enterprises.

The policy will seek to approach the problems of youths from a holistic angle so as to ensure coverage of the most critical elements, to mitigate the negative impact of the on-going economic adjustment measures and to improve institutional performance capacity and ensure country-wide coverage in the execution of youth programmes.

Re-organisation and re-orientation of existing youth plans and programmes to suit current national needs and aspirations which will include rehabilitation and restructuring of existing youth skill-training schemes in the country are some of the key components the policy seek to address.

It is therefore believed that with reviewed policies, Zambia is expected to develop socially, political and economically.

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