The Zambia Council for Social Development says plans by government to construct 650 health centres risk becoming a white elephant due to lack of investment in human resource.
ZCSD executive secretary Lewis Mwape said government’s plan to invest in mega health infrastructure development would fail because it did not correspond with the available manpower that currently operated below 50 per cent capacity.
Mwape said in a statement that government should instead work towards increasing the labour force before embarking on such massive investment.
“We have observed that there is an attempt by the PF Government to disregard all tenets of good governance and pursue a development that is not well grounded in long term strategic vision. A case in point is the pronouncement of the construction of 650 health centres countrywide.
“Corresponding pronouncements must also be made on how government will pursue human resource recovery in the sector for both existing health institutions and the new ones,” he said.
He said such facilities would end up becoming death traps with no equipment, medicines and adequately qualified staff to manage them.
He said there was no need for government to get into huge debt for facilities which would not work or benefit the people due to lack of adequate equipment and manpower.
“It is in this regard that ZCSD fears that the country will risk being drowned in unbearable debts that generations to come will be tied to as the government has already borrowed too much money.
“Zambia will also be forced to continue borrowing in order to finance administrative expenditure in key public sectors such as health and education,” he said.
He said ZCSD regretted attempts by the PF government to ignore the principles of good governance that determine the path of development to help focus on long term strategies for the country.
Mwape said there was need for government to quickly enact the new republican constitution that should help give direction to such activities as infrastructure development and transparency in public programmes.
“In this regard, we advise that government should speed up the enactment of the Budget and Planning Act to insulate debt contraction, enhance resource mobilisation, and promote transparency and accountability by opening of the budgeting processes to effective citizen participation and control.
“Enactment of a good constitution becomes a top priority to save good intentions such as the implementation of the Revised Decentralisation Policy and safeguard governance institutions for the prosperity of all citizens and promotion of democracy and rule of law.
Good governance provides the most suitable environment to spur development and government should suspend the implementation of the NGO Act to allow for the participation of civil society and citizens in the development process of the country,” the statement read.
Mwape said the government should begin to drive away from the old paradigm of development that depended on GDP-growth, and move towards meaningful and tangible well-being for the people.
He said poverty eradication would only be achieved with the removal of inequalities and focus on equitable distribution of wealth with a rights based approach.