AFTER OUR FIRST FOUR (4) YEARS IN GOVERNMENT, PF STILL ZAMBIA’S PARTY OF CHOICE
Exactly four (4) years ago today, Zambia went to the polls to elect a Government of the People and for the People, the Patriotic Front (PF). On 20th September 2011, Zambians from all walks of life exercised their right to vote for a President and representatives to the National Assembly and Local Government. Then Chief Justice Ernest Sakala announced that our late Republican President and PF’s Patriarch Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata had won the election against the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) of former President Rupiah Bwezani Banda. Late President Sata was sworn into office the same day of the 23rd September 2011, exactly four (4) years today.
Over the first four years Governance, much has been accomplished and more remains to be done in order to realize our vision for Zambia. In order to do more for our people, we must depart from just using the same partisan playbook which divided Zambia for years. We are One Zambia, One Nation. The times are too serious for any political party to embrace and champion any divisive kind of politics. From the day we formed Government, Zambians have asked the how the PF will create jobs. Will the PF ensure food security at household levels? When will they build roads, schools and hospitals? How can we get our water and electricity? What about education? When will we have a fair and effective judiciary, police service? Will the PF give us health care? What about pensions? Over the last four (4), the PF have made serious strides to provide achievable, realistic and clear programmes to answer these questions as a listening Party in power. We are looking forward to doing more for and with our people as we continue to advance the gains of our democracy!
As we look back at our first four (4) years in Office, we can report that PF has registered an indelible mark on the Country’s infrastructure deficit. Our massive and unprecedented Infrastructure development has made PF government to be more appreciated even in areas where we were previously not. There is no Province in Zambia that will not point to some roads, bridges, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, clinics, railways, etc., which the PF Government has constructed over the past four (4) years. No one therefore can dare challenge our record on this score as we consider infrastructure development as key in attracting local and foreign direct investment.
Our first four (4) years also saw the introduction of minimum wage, creation of new districts and upward adjustment of salaries for civil servants, measures which received broad support from the non-working and working classes. This continues to demonstrate that PF is pro-labour and a true friend of the workers. Other measures have included revising the law on retirement age to provide for three options an employee can exercise to retire. PF still believes more must be done to ensure a more vibrant pension fund. Further, President Lungu directed the Ministry of Labour to ensure that only jobs whose skills are not locally available should be given to expatriates and work permits issued. All jobs which can be performed by skilled Zambians locally will not necessitate the issuing of work permits to foreign experts. The Head of State also lifted the employment and wage freeze. This means that come next year 2016, civil servants will have bargained with Government and more people will be recruited, hence creating more jobs!
We have demonstrated within the first four (4) years of being in Government that a new constitution must be delivered and key constitutional reforms made in this endeavour. While retrogressive agents have mobilized to fight the constitution-making process, we remain confident that the people of Zambia, through their elected representatives in Parliament shall not succumb to the whims of those who wish to pollute our Governance system with alien ideologies which defy the order of nature and take away from our dignity as a decent human race and people. During this period, PF in Government has seen key reforms to the judiciary based on the principle of separation of powers and the demand by Zambians to see the much desired Independence and dispensation of justice. President Lungu has taken steps to replace the Attorney General, suspend the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to pave way for a tribunal, appointed the new Chief Justice and other key changes as a way to have a strong independent judiciary.
Contrary to what our competitors and counter-progressive forces wish to insinuate, the fundamentals of our economy are resilient in the wake of global economic challenges and China’s reduced appetite for our Copper. During our first four (4) years in Office, Zambia has been hit by another challenge with the Kwacha becoming volatile against major convertible currencies. This is of course arises out of China has slowed down its economic growth rate, including devaluing its currency, the Yuan. Copper prices at the global markets have also gone down thereby affecting Zambia as a copper producing country. Consequently, the US Dollar has also been gaining against other currencies. But during our first four (4) years, President appointed former World Bank Regional Director Mr. Denny Kalyalya as Bank of Zambia (BOZ) Governor and immediately tasked him to help control volatility, among other issues. Zambia must be proud of the important role the BOZ in playing in line with its mandate.
As part of our first four (4) years in Office, President Lungu President Lungu, being fully aware that the energy sector is key to national development directed that ZESCO will not increase electricity tariffs for 2 years. Currently, Zambia has been hit with a challenge of load-shedding because of low water levels in the Kariba Dam. President Lungu is aware of the challenges facing individuals, small scale and large scale businesses because of hydro power deficit. He has since directed ZESCO to start importing power to cushion the challenge. The President has further directed that alternative sources of energy be accelerated which will culminate into the installation of large scale solar systems. This was adequately pronounced during his address to the nation through Parliament.
During our first four (4) years PF addressed the VAT issue with the Mining Companies by directing Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to issue a Gazette Notice to effect amendments to Rule 18 of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act providing for conditions of zero-rating of exports that usually places mining companies in an untenable VAT refund position. PF also resolved Tax Disputes with the Mining Companies when on 25th March 2015, President Lungu directed the Minister of Finance and Minister of Mines and Minerals Development to effect changes to the 2015 Mineral Royalty Tax by 8th April 2015. This is because there must be a win-win situation and PF has a duty to declare dividends to Zambia’s shareholders, the Zambian people.
During our first four (4) years, PF is rolling out of a Presidential Initiative for Solar Milling Plants to all 10 provinces. This is aimed at reducing the price of mealie meal and making it affordable to the majority of Zambians. This is a gigantic and unprecedented step in assuring and ensuring food security especially in rural Zambia. Government has increased the price of a 50 kilogram bag of maize that a farmer should sell to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). The move is to ensure that farmers are motivated to grow more maize as they get value for their produce. On the other hand, PF Government ensured that fertilizer distribution to districts started off in May this year, 2015. This means that farmers will sell their maize at a good price and immediately start collecting fertilizer and other farming inputs, thereby putting more money in people’s pockets! PF in Government has also been pioneering aquaculture resulting in the sourcing of a 50 Million US Dollar loan from the Africa Development Bank (ADB) to restock major water bodies.
As part of our first four (4) years in Office, President Lungu has laid a monumental vision to transform Zambia and place it as a Regional and Continental Economic Hub when the generation of Zambians wake up on 24th October 2064. As PF in Government and as a Party, we have committed our unflinching dedication to the Vision the Head of State laid plainly before the Zambians. We ask all Citizens and stakeholders alike to do the same! The Head of State made a clarion call for accelerated diversification of commodities for exportation to reduce dependency on copper. President Lungu has also realigned public procurement so that there is no importation of goods that can be manufactured locally to avoid taking out the dollar. He has also directed the Industrial Development Corporation- IDC takes charge of public parastatals so that they can float shares on the stock exchange in order to raise revenue and help control currency volatility. President Lungu has also urged policy consistency in the mining sector resulting in the realigning of the mineral royalty tax. President Lungu has also been visiting mines to assure them that Zambia remains the best investment destination in the continent.
This direction by the President is underpinned by a framework that is coherent, viable and has received widespread support. This is a Zambia we owe present and future generations. Following the 18th September 2015 speech, there has been much public comment, mostly favourable and in some isolated instances, critical. We welcome all this, even though we may not always agree with some comments. Overall, and in many cases, both public and private comments have made very valuable contributions and caused Government to rethink because by doing so the greater interests of all will be served. Indeed that bold vision laid down by President Lungu is a National Vision and we encourage all Zambians to internalize it.
Lastly, within the four (4) years of PF in office, President Lungu has boldly re-dedicated Zambia as a Christian nation, declared 18th October as a National Day of Prayer and Fasting. It is also during our first four (4) years that we have intensified preaching and practicing national unity and peace starting from within our own party. We have refused to use tribe to bar participation of our members as we consolidate our intra-democracy. The right to aspire for leadership in the party transcends tribe as we demonstrated following the death of our founding President Mr. Sata. This crucial feature is as rare as a dog’s horn in some known political parties seeking power.
PF continues to make a consistent case on why we must change the way we do politics as a nation. PF believes that we must co-exist for a better Zambia, and our PF political leadership has continued to espouse humility, dedication, helping the weak and providing selfless service to the nation. PF leadership, amidst all the insults by well-known sections of the media and their agents, has been about turning the other cheek when the other has been slapped. We have continued to argue that true courage by our competitors and adversaries alike is not in how much they insult and demean President Lungu. To the contrary, true courage is when they can provide solid policy alternatives to Government. The PF in Government is always ready to interact with such serious checks and balances.
On behalf of our leadership, let me salute the life-line of our party, our fellow cadres. They have made PF strong and attractive. Our being in office is their labour and toil. Of the seven Parliamentary by-elections held after 20th January 2015, they have ensured PF’s victory. They are still working hard to consolidate PF’s gains in this democracy. We thank each one of you for keeping the PF dream alive. I want you to know that your leadership will do more to celebrate you because without you, there is no PF!
May God Bless Zambia
Mrs. Mumbi Phiri – PF Deputy Secretary General