‘The road ahead will not be without challenges’

IN his inaugural address as Republican President, Hakainde Hichilema admitted that the road ahead will not be without challenges but that with a clear vision and plan, which the UPND government have, and relentless determination, “we shall overcome and deliver on the aspirations of our people”

“Going forward, you will see rationality, prudence and effectiveness from our side.

Our focus over the next five years will be on restoring macro-economic stability and promoting growth of the economy. We will pay special attention to lowering the fiscal deficit, reducing public debt and restoring social and market confidence. We will also promote national unity and good governance by strict adherence to the rule of law. We will focus on inclusion and not exclusion. Unity, and not division. Gathering and not scattering…” declared Hakainde. “Over the last decade, we have witnessed the erosion of our economy. The debt situation has become unsustainable, reducing the country’s capacity to invest in productive areas of our economy and address the gaps in healthcare, education and other social services. Our national budget has been overwhelmed by debt servicing, emoluments and consumption, when there should be greater room for investment, for growth. The high levels of unemployment, especially among our youth is of great concern to us and this will be high on our agenda to address. Food should be available and affordable for the people. The people have hope and expect us to address the cost of living that is beyond the reach of the majority of our citizens. The scourge of corruption has not only eroded our much-needed resources, but it has also robbed us of the opportunity for growth. We shall have zero tolerance to corruption. This will be our hallmark. The fight against corruption will be professional and not vindictive. The institutions mandated to investigate and prosecute will be given unfettered autonomy to effectively and efficiently carry out their mandate without fear or favour of political bias. We are determined to free our country from the ills of mismanagement and malpractice, and promote that which is better. We will undertake an ambitious economic and social transformation agenda to move Zambia forward, create equitable opportunities for all our people, and reduce poverty. We believe that a time will come when poverty in our country will not be tolerated. No Zambian should go to bed hungry. No effort should be spared in salvaging the children on the streets or those engaged in vices such as alcohol and substance abuse…”

A mammoth task indeed for the UPND administration. And as Hakainde has rightly noted, the road ahead won’t be without challenges.

So far Hakainde’s declarations, pronouncements have signaled some good start, projecting that good things may truly be coming ahead. But this can only be if the pronouncements will be carried through, respected and enforced. What use is a pronouncement that is not followed through, respected or enforced? The young Zambians that woke up around 02:00 hours to change the PF administration will certainly not be amused by sweet, soothing pronouncements, rhetorical political statements. They will be looking out for key performance indicators or deliverables.

Some of the aspects he has outlined to resolve have external implications – like debt issue. Fingers are crossed hoping there won’t be another tightening of the belt initiative! We are told that worrying is like paying a debt that may never come due.

Ogden Nash noted that, “Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.”

As Dr Cosmas Musumali, the Socialist Party general secretary and first vice-president,

observed recently, “Zambia’s current biggest expenditure item is external debt payment. The biggest source of financing are the Zambian masses through personal income tax, value added tax, excise duty that targets the consumers plus more external borrowing. In essence, the poor Zambians are paying back the external debt contracted by a reckless ruling elite – apart from paying for the luxurious life styles.” As they say home life ceases to be free and beautiful as soon as it is founded on borrowing and debt!

The task of addressing socio-economic, political and cultural challenges facing our country is grandiosely gigantic! And Zambians have high expectations from HH and his team!

As Barack Obama stated, “a just peace includes not only civil and political rights – it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want. It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can’t aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within. And that’s why helping farmers feed their own people – or nations educate their children and care for the sick – is not mere charity.”

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