YOUTH Development Organisation executive director Partner Siabutuba says the 2022 national budget is the only key tool Zambians can use to assess President Hakainde Hichilema’s commitment towards fulfilling his campaign promises.
In an interview, Siabutuba said there was a tendency by governments to make very good pronouncements which were not backed by resource allocation, thereby rendering them mere rhetoric.
“Key to his intention is the 2022 national budget and that is what we are looking to. Because there is a tendency by governments to make very good pronouncements; very well intended plans to a point where very well-established policy proposes [are] put together but at the point of public resource allocation, this is where most of them have gotten it wrong,” he said.
Siabutuba said the existing good political will of the UPND administration required prioritisation in terms of financial disbursement or allocation.
He said without financial commitment to all programmes, the government’s intentions would amount to nothing.
“We would like to see this government commit not only on policy position but should go as far as ensuring that money is made available to these intentions, then they can yield the anticipated results,” Siabutuba said. “We have noted that the President has established a very strong foundation going into his leadership and his first five-year term. He seems to have stuck to his campaign promises by knocking down some of the key campaign promises. For example, he has exhibited or demonstrated his fight against corruption. He has gone further to propose legal framework like establishing fast-track courts to deal with corruption and economic crimes. That alone is going to cure corruption cancer that we have had in the country for a long time, undermining our economic progress that we had gained in few years over a long time but had lost it in few years that we had PF in government.”
And Siabutuba reminded President Hichilema that despite his good pronouncements, citizens were watching him.
He warned the Head of State that some of his officials could also frustrate him.
“He is also doing this when several binoculars have been set up by the likes of Raphael Nakacinda, Sean Tembo and others. He should also be alive to the fact that whilst he is doing all this, there are a lot of factors that can potentially frustrate his efforts. So he needs to be steadfast and remain focused,” Siabutuba added. “In the previous governments, ministers had the tendency of frustrating good government intentions by way of exhibiting their incapacity to deliver. So what the President’s task right now should be is to ensure he has a team he should keep his eyes on for the purpose of delivery.”
He suggested that President Hichilema should further outline his key expected tasks to each ministry like he did with the Ministry of Finance.
Siabutuba said this would enable citizens track the progress made by ministers.
“It was very exciting when he appointed finance minister [Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane]. He outlined five economic indicators and I think it is important that he should go and do the same to every other ministry. Then the public would be helped not only to celebrate that this minister is in that position but we should be able to see what we are expecting from the Minister of Youth, for example,” said Siabutuba. “Like what are we expecting basically from the Ministry of Agriculture? I think it would be important for government to go as far as highlighting to the public what they expect to see from each ministry because sometimes the ministers may lack in a number of areas. And this in itself can be an opportunity for failure by government to succeed.”