PF finally decided to release their new Manifesto – a very large 79 page long manifesto intended to explain to the Zambian voters how they will continue to contribute to the development of the country. A first impression implies that this lengthy piece of work must hold an impressive and detailed description of what the PF intend to do, but after examining the content we are left disappointed to know that the manifesto is a long script of empty words and lies.
The manifesto begins by claiming: “Under the stewardship of the Patriotic Front, the economy has performed favorably registering strong positive growth…the economy is resilient and is projected to post higher growth rates. Appropriate policy interventions have seen a resurgence of investor confidence in our economy.”
We must ask where PF gather their facts. A recent report from World Bank, written on the 8th of April 2016 says: “The falling copper prices, exports and foreign direct investment (FDI) have weakened the economy. Copper prices declined by almost a third from their peak in February 2011 to $4,595/ton in February 2016. The mine closures in 2015 led to the loss of over 7,700 jobs. Sixty percent of the population lives below the poverty line and 42% are considered to be in extreme poverty. Moreover, the absolute number of poor has increased from about six million in 1991 to 7.9 million in 2010, primarily due to a rapidly growing population”.
Zambia has faced a difficult time, where market conditions have been unfavorable to the growth of the economy. Even though this is not the sole fault of the current government, it is important to question how the government intends to make a real change to ensure Zambia grows despite the fall of universal copper prices.
The manifesto realizes that in 2015, only 54% of rural households had sufficient food access. It states: “These poor statistics on food and nutrition security are caused largely by dominance of mono-cropping and mono diet”. To address this issue, the manifesto claim they will “promote a diversified diet and nutrition education”.
We question how they will manage to do this, when just the price of mealie meals has increased from K50 to K125 for 25kg of mealie under the period that PF have governed. The manifesto nowhere mentions the increase in food prices, and how the cost of living is dependent upon creating an improved agriculture system.
Secondly, the Manifesto realizes “An estimated 300,000 children of primary school age (7 – 13) of whom girls remain the majority, are out of school in the country”.
As a solution, the manifesto intends to: “Enhance educational opportunities and promote the rights of the girl child, particularly in removing the impediments that inhibit their progression at present”.
We were however much disappointed to learn that there was no further follow up on this matter, no solutions to how to make sure that girls have the opportunity to go to school, such as provide a budget especially targeted to the education of girls. We find this highly worrying, considering that Zambia has been one the poorest performing countries with the Millennium Development Goals of reducing gender inequality in 2030. The promised actions of the PF are further empty words.