The Patriotic Front and Edgar Lungu made a lot of promises on the campaign trail: more money in your pockets, jobs and so on and so forth. But was all of this just about positioning themselves to appeal to an electorate and win its votes? Or have they actually tried to do any of these since being elected?
An election promise or campaign promise is a promise or guarantee made to the public by a candidate or political party trying to win an election.
Before and after winning power, the Patriotic Front and Edgar promised a bevy of achievements for their time in office.
The Patriotic Front and Edgar won elections promising a Zambian economic boom and jobs for displaced workers in Kabwe, the Copperbelt, pockets of the country that helped to fuel their electoral win. Edgar pledged to create a million jobs over a very short period of time.
In 2015 during the launch of the National Youth Policy in Lusaka, Edgar promised to create 500,000 by August 2016.
In November 2015, Edgar promised to create 10,000 jobs for the people of the Copperbelt.
On August 1, 2016, at the reopening of the Mulungushi Textiles in Kabwe, Edgar promised to create 20,000 jobs for this former mining town in five years.
And during the opening of Parliament on September 30, 2016, Edgar said “the Patriotic Front government will in the next five years create a million jobs through the Industrial Development Corporation”. A million jobs in five years translates into 200,000 jobs per annum. Edgar said to achieve this, the government would use growth areas of agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, manufacturing and information and communication technology in line with the Patriotic Front manifesto which pledges industrialisation.
Two to three years have passed since those promises were made and there is very little, if not nothing, to show in terms of job creation. One wonders where Edgar was getting those job figures from! Was he dreaming? Or was it a deliberate ploy to hoodwink the Zambian voters into thinking their joblessness will go away if they vote for him?
All our economic indicators show that jobs will not be easy to come by. Even the International Labour Organisation says despite falling unemployment levels in some developed economies, its analysis – World Employment and Social Outlook (WESO) – shows the global job crisis is not likely to end, especially in emerging economies. “Continuing high rates of unemployment worldwide and chronic vulnerable employment in many emerging and developing economies are still deeply affecting the world of work,” warns an ILO report. “The significant slowdown in emerging economies, coupled with a sharp decline in commodity prices, is having a dramatic effect on the world of work. The unstable economic environment associated with volatile capital flows, still dysfunctional financial markets and the shortage of global demand continue to affect enterprises and deter investment and job creation.” So, on what was Edgar basing his high job creation promises?
Again, it’s always better to tell the people the truth and prepare them for the difficulties ahead. The issue of jobs is not something to play cheap politics with. We already have a very high unemployment rate which should be giving responsible and caring political leaders sleepless nights. And it is important to understand what a high unemployment rate means and its consequences if not properly and adequately addressed. A high unemployment rate is often a result of a slow economy. As economic activity improves, companies require additional workers, and unemployment falls. If unemployment remains high for an extended period, it may become structural, resulting in a myriad of problems.
It’s very clear that Edgar and the Patriotic Front lied about jobs. If not, where are these jobs they promised you?
This feeds the perception that many electoral campaign promises of the Patriotic Front and Edgar were made to be ignored, fudged or just plain broken, either because they can’t keep them or don’t want to.
Theories of representative democracy hold that the promises that politicians and their political
parties make to the electorate are expected to be of great importance to both voting behaviour and accountability processes. For voters to make rational choices regarding the representatives they elect, information is
needed on the policy plans of the various available candidate representatives. At the
same time, to effectively evaluate the credibility of the commitments made by the eventually elected representatives, the implementation of the proposed policies can
be tracked. For both purposes, election promises offer – at least theoretically – a solution. Voters can use the information provided in election manifestos, television debates, and so on and so forth to find the candidate representative that best suits their interests,
opinions, and needs. Also, the performance of government parties can be evaluated in terms of credibility based on the extent to which these parties have upheld the
promises made to the electorate. In turn, these evaluations can be used to ‘reward’ parties that have proven reliable partners, and hold accountable the parties that have broken
their promises with regard to subsequent elections.
The failure by our politicians and their political parties to fulfil election campaign promises is making people perceive politicians and political parties to be chronic promise breakers – following the idea that politicians and political parties make alluring promises to attract as many as possible votes, while easily putting these promises aside as soon as they are elected into government.
Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.