ActionAid Zambia has questioned the motive behind the creation of new districts on Solwezi district by President Edgar Lungu.
It said the creation of new districts is a form of decentralization, with potential to enhance service delivery at the local level but stated that the manner in which this is done is questionable for a number of reasons.
It pointed out that there seems to be no proper analysis of the social and economic environment when creating new districts.
It said on the economic front, government did not budget for the creation of new districts in the 2015 budget.
ActionAid said the creation of new districts should be accompanied with improved investment in infrastructure development, which requires sufficient resources.
In a statement, ActionAid said with the current high fiscal deficit Zambia is already experiencing, it is unlikely that government will be able to support infrastructure development in these new districts.
It said the creation of new districts is further widening the fiscal deficit.
“The creation of new districts should be accompanied with improved investment in infrastructure development, which requires sufficient resources. With the current high fiscal deficit the country is already experiencing, it is unlikely that government will be able to support infrastructure development in these new districts which will disadvantage the people
of these districts as structures, systems and services to support them will be none existent. This creation of new districts is further widening the fiscal deficit,” it said.
It also said the expectation that investors should lead and spearhead development in the newly created districts is misplaced.
“We should remember that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is voluntary and largely depends on the goodwill of investors. The President in his statement when declaring Kalumbila and Mushindano as districts argued that he expects Mushindano district to have modern facilities like Kalumbila where First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has developed modern infrastructure. While it is accepted that investors could undertake CSR, it is the responsibility of government to provide modern facilities to its people and not to rely on investors.”
“ActionAid is concerned that the declaration of new districts is being undertaken with little consultation of affected communities and stakeholders. ActionAid notes that on many occasions, the President just declares an area a new district when attending a political rally or when visiting traditional leaders in that area.”
It said often such pronouncements are made at political rallies to win votes and there is no proper consultation with the local people.
“Although government has been talking about participatory governance this is against the principle of participation and could breed conflict if not well handled,” it said.
The organization is further concerned that the pronouncement of these two new districts comes in the wake of an impending by-election in the district and maybe misconstrued as a political gimmick by the ruling Patriotic Front government.
“ActionAid is further concerned that new districts that have so far been created have not been adequately resourced and that these have now become a burden on national treasury as in some cases employees recruited in the districts have no infrastructure to operate from with a number of districts.”
It added, “In the last three years, over 25 districts have been created. However, there has been no comprehensive information given by government regarding the establishment of key infrastructure in the new districts. Information on the ground is that there is little going on in terms of infrastructure development in the newly created districts.”
President Lungu over the weekend announced the creation of Mushindano and Kalumbila districts in Solwezi.
PF has so far brought the total number of districts to 105 from 74 since taking over in 2011.