Economy:defining poll factor

ZAMBIA’S new president must diversify the economy away from copper to tourism, hydropower, agriculture and other sectors to better the lives of Zambians.

According to South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper the incoming president in tomorrow’s polls has a huge task to make the countrys’s mineral wealth count for young citizens.

It says that growing poverty is largely ignored and that although unemployment is pegged at 15 per cent, it is difficult to verify the percentage classified as being in informal employment.

“A large portion of the population work on farms where wages are notoriously low. In fact, many people in the country are classified as “working poor” citizens because of severely low wages,” it says

“This is a defining poll for Zambia. It is the second-biggest producer of copper in Africa, but has precious little to show for it among citizens – about 70per cent live on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank. The copper windfall has not resulted in an improvement in social services,” it  reports

A 2013 World Bank economic brief, Zambia’s Jobs Challenge: Realities on the Ground, points out the problem of joblessness among young people.

It says many have limited education opportunities and are unable to move out of unviable home businesses.

These youths have little prospect of moving into the formal job market, which the report says remains largely for children of the better off while there is little support for the self-employed.

Zambia has experienced a growing real gross domestic product of about 6 per cent a year since 2012 and favourable foreign direct investments, especially in the extractive sector mostly from China, but there is tension in labour over alleged unfair practices in mines and fast-dropping copper prices.

The paper says although United Party for National Development (UPND) candidate Mr Hakainde Hichilema has emerged as a favourite among business, the hostility between him and trade unions is unfavourable.

He also has to shake off the perceived tribalism tag attached to his party, with critics claiming that he runs a regional party whose stronghold is only in the south.

“Zambians will vote for a new president in a defining poll for the country, which is under pressure to make its mineral wealth count for citizens,” it says

Zambia goes to the poll tomorrow, to choose a new president after the death of incumbent “King Cobra” Michael Sata last year.

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