WHAT are the policies of the 11 political parties contesting this month’s Presidential election?
This is probably one question that comes to the mind of political observers as they listen to Presidential contenders’ campaign.
In the political arena currently, the campaigns are awash with promises of freebies.
While some candidates are promising free education, others are pledging to pay farmers on time when they deliver their maize to the Food Reserve Agency on time.
Despite all those promises still the political leaders are not discussing the policy direction of their political parties.
Assuming the other 10 contenders won the Presidency, does it mean they will just fit into the policy direction of Patriotic Front government and only improve on efficiency?
According to scholars, a policy is a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes.
There is need for Presidential hopefuls to explain their policy direction assuming they had an opportunity to rule Zambia.
In the post-Independence era of the United National Independence Party (UNIP), the new government introduced free education policy.
In fact, there were so many public services which were funded by the State treasury.
Since the colonists left a sound treasury, the free provision of various services worked well but not for long.
As the population grew and the need for social amenities increased, the free provision of social services could not be sustained.
This brought about agitation in the country which led to change of government.
The era of UNIP ended because the party of Independence could not continue with the policy of free social services.
Simply put, the provision of free social services on State coffers is an expensive understanding which cannot be sustained.
This is the reason why the MMD of 1991 did not promise free public services.
In his wisdom, MMD president Frederick Chiluba asked people to sacrifice as subsidies and other free provision of public services were not sustainable.
The policy shift on free public services worked well for the MMD government as people themselves started paying for most services.
This resulted in less pressure on the State treasury.
In the current campaigns for the Presidency left vacant by Mr Michael Sata who died on October 28 last year, we are not hearing the policy direction of most contenders on the various promises being made.
It is important for Presidential hopefuls to understand the public service’s functioning is driven by policy.
In the absence of policy to guide decisions, it becomes difficult for the political leaders achieve set goals.