Political researcher Dr Cephas Mukuka says the PF has drifted from being a pro-poor party to that of selfish capitalists.
“ The PF has drifted from being a pro-poor party to being selfish capitalists as evidenced by the way poverty levels are increasing,” says Dr Mukuka.
“The ‘I don’t care attitude’ exhibited by the PF government is deliberate and meant to further punish the innocent citizens of this nation. The cost of living is very high and yet favourable to the President and his team, hence the negative attitude towards national affairs. Our political elite can’t feel the economic harshness because they have more than enough monies to use.”
A pro-poor agenda focusses on poverty and on the need for social sector investment to be effective and equitable.
A pro-poor agenda means putting poverty reduction and socio-economic progress at the heart of leadership, government’s mandate, policy formulation and programmes’ implementation. It means being seriously interested in examining and considering how leadership and government’s actions affect the livelihoods of the poor and how positive impacts can be enhanced nationwide. With such thinking and by so doing, leadership seeks to assess the relevance of its decisions and its actions and policies to the overall national poverty agenda, and the factors that encourage or constrain economic participation of the poor in Zambia’s economic growth, development and prosperity. It also means that based on this broad vision, appointees and the agencies of government begin to outline strategies to promote and facilitate pro-poor governance where less than five per cent of the country’s population will not be the only beneficiaries of the national wealth, rather everyone will one way or the other.
Ensuring that poverty is reduced or that poor people become a part of national progress by sharing in national benefits is a very noble thing.
As Ronald Reagan would say, many poor Zambians today, just as they did some decades ago, feel burdened, stifled and sometimes even oppressed by a government that has grown too large, too wasteful, too unresponsive, too uncaring about people and their problems.
A pro-poor agenda is critical to lifting Zambians out of poverty. So, what exactly does this mean? What is a pro-poor agenda? If you’re living in abject poverty, illiterate, and don’t know where your next meal will come from, it might be hard to get behind a concept that stresses macroeconomic stability.
In fact, there’s been a lot of confusion and misinterpretations about a pro-poor agenda.
Here’s what a pro-poor agenda is not: a handout, nor is it a quick fix. It’s a much broader approach to stimulate economic growth to benefit poor people. Pro-poor policies are aimed at poverty reduction. The aim of pro-poor policies is to improve the assets and capabilities of the poor.
It is a policy framework that gives priority to the alleviation of poverty, with the core objective and focus to reduce the marginalisation of the most vulnerable.
Improving the assets and capabilities of Zambia’s poor will take productive government expenditures in infrastructure, education, health care, and youth empowerment to name a few top priorities.
Zambia’s economic challenges include dismal GDP growth, low commodity prices, reduced foreign ccurrency inflows, inflation, depreciation of the Kwacha, cost of living increases, limited employment, and public debt. Other challenges exist that interfere with Zambia’s economic transformation. These include corruption, lack of transparency, abuse of power, low value addition in the agriculture sector.
As challenging as the Zambian economy may be, there are doors of opportunity. Drivers of economic transformation include: peasant agriculture – investments in domestic agriculture could reduce Zambia’s reliance on imports from South Africa and become pivotal in reducing poverty by boosting employment. Rational infrastructure projects, especially roads – roads in good condition facilitate trade, making it easier to deliver goods and services while also expanding markets.
Power generation – with both excessive electricity costs and limited coverage, Zambia’s economy remains limited and undiversified. Expanding power generation could spur industry and services exports as well as bring down costs and enhance lives.
Telecommunications – again, a great deal of progress has been made, but there’s still a large connectivity gap in Zambia. An additional investment is needed in a national backbone along with demand stimulation, an internet ecosystem, ICT jobs, and applications.
To reduce poverty in Zambia, the government must set the groundwork for enterprises to grow and thrive. The conditions needed for that include a well-developed infrastructure, good roads throughout Zambia, stable macroeconomic conditions, a strong banking sector, reliable access to technology, and an educated, skilled workforce.