We agree with President Sata; Job creation must be given top Government priority, but we don’t agree with the vague pronouncements about the number of jobs thus far created. Only real jobs should count because these ensure increased national productivity.
It is important that this country is put to work. This is a task that calls for planning and systematic implementation to ensure the best possible outcome.
It requires that a multi disciplinary and inter sectoral Task Force is established to audit and establish all the potential job creation sectors. The audit should culminate into a master plan that will work out specific modalities of job creation in both the rural and urban areas.
Although we have a population of about 13million our employed population is still below I million. In fact those in formal employment constitute less than 500,000 the rest are deployed in the informal sector.
This is totally unsatisfactory because many Zambians have the capacity to engage in more productive activities given an opportunity..
It must be remembered that the colonialists in their wisdom introduced taxes on the natives to cajole them into employment and therefore into the cash economy. The method may have been crude but the desired result was achieved.
They were able to utilize illiterate villagers into development agents, building roads and infrastructure that supported the economy in mining and related activities.
The situation is very different today. The country can boast of literate and often well trained human capital, which can be strategically deployed in productive sectors of the economy.
We know for a fact that agriculture holds the most potential which will create employment and the same time increase national productivity and create a linkage into agri-business that will open even more avenues for export of finished rather than primary commodities.
However to achieve this dream there is need for deliberate planning to ensure that the requisite resources are mobilized and a functional, feasible and “profitable” plan is implemented.
We should not get into the trap of the National Service which in the end drained more resources and produced graduates who never went t back to the land. Not everybody is tailored to work the land; some people are more adept at other areas of economic activity which can support agriculture.
For those who can not work in the agriculture sector, effort could be directed at creating small business initiatives. This can be in the area of technology such as computers and high tech.
But whatever is done the need for resources can not be overemphasized. There must be a small business start up fund that will enable the new entrepreneurs not only access funds but also consultancy services to enable them grow the small business.
However whatever happens the Government has a role to play in ensuring that young people coming out of school are equipped with skills that will enable them hit the labour market with skills.
There must be comparative research to learn from the success of the Tigers which have engaged their population fully.
We have a lot of ground to do and the sooner we start the better.