Zambians should use the increased unemployment levels in the country under the Patriotic Front (PF) government as a bargaining tool to elect a better leadership in 2016 to address youth unemployment, Open Society Foundation executive director Sunday Chanda has said.
He said the PF government was being cruel to subject public workers to a wage and employment freeze, Mr. Chanda said
Mr. Chanda said in an interview that the PF administration was being irresponsible to act in the manner they acted towards the public service.
“We are calling on Zambians to pay particular attention to the rising unemployment levels in the country and an act by government to impose a cruel employment freeze against a population in dire need of jobs must cause Zambians to worry,” he said.
Mr. Chanda said unemployment levels in the country had sky-rocketed, adding that youths should take the economy back in their hands to address the current calamity.
He described as sad the continued absence of key policies to promote the private sector to participate in job creation.
“We are also concerned at the absence of key policy measures to provide incentives for private sector to play a critical role in dismantling the burden of unemployment in the country. To date, government has dragged its feet on the re-introduction of the mining windfall tax which was introduced in 2008 at 25 per cent when copper prices were $2.50 per pound but below $3.00 per pound,” Mr Chanda said.
He also said his organisation was concerned about the high levels of job tokenism manifesting in the country.
“We are also concerned at the levels of job tokenism manifested by casual, temporal and low quality seasonal jobs where Zambian youths are reduced to provide cheap labour the construction of roads and building. These are tokens which do not offer job security at all,” noted Mr. Chanda.
Mr. Chanda has since challenged the Ministry of Youth and Sport to tell Zambians why it had not taken President Michael Sata’s directive of 12th March 2012 seriously to come up with a National Youth Employment Strategy which if implemented would give a directive on how Zambia should run in the quest to create employment for the youth.
He said it was sad that the Ministry responsible had failed to deliver the Jobs Plan as directed by President Sata.
Mr. Chanda also said that it was his concern that the PF administration had not attempted to present a Jobs Bill to Parliament with the purpose of putting more young people to work and put more money in the pockets of working citizens.
“Government must be seen to demonstrate the zeal for creating work for Zambians looking for jobs while putting more money in the pockets of every Zambian worker and family and this should include expanding the tax base and cutting tax for workers.
Zambia is in dire need of a comprehensive marshal plan and clear-cut interventions to reduce unemployment,” he said.
Mr. Chanda wondered why government had not moved with speed in transforming the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) into a vehicle for pushing back frontiers of youth joblessness.
“We believe the economic situation of millions of Zambian youths is that of disillusionment and want of sense of direction. As the nation marches towards 50 years of political independence, Zambia must be honest to acknowledge that political freedom on its own does not guarantee economic freedom for the masses unless decisive policy steps can be taken.
“Young Zambians must demand for economic power through wealth creation. After 50 years, Government needs to put in place a National Jobs Plan focusing on industrialization and wealth creation through mainstreaming young entrepreneurs into, among others, sectors such as mining, tourism, and agriculture,” Mr. Chanda said.