As the year 2014 comes to a close, the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) would like to reflect on some of the failures, challenges and achievements of the year and our hopes and aspirations for the year 2015. The year under review has recorded a lot of mixed situations. Our reflections will largely be on the areas of work that SACCORD does and the issues that most Zambians hold dear which may have been done or not by the government including other stakeholders such as political parties, the media, civil society and the church.
On a positive note we noted the continued implementation of the infrastructure development program which the PF embarked on upon getting to power in 2011. A number of roads were completed with a lot more still being worked on during the year. We also note great efforts made in building clinics, expanding hospitals and building of more schools. We believe this was good for national development. We also noted the continued efforts to improve the plight of women and children. The appointments of more women to key government positions also brought about a clear commitment on the part of the government that they intend to carry everyone along on the national development agenda. The country also witnessed the launch of the revised decentralization policy which is expected to improve service delivery. For the major part of the year, the country also maintained inflation and improved the environment for doing business.
However, the country also faced a lot of challenges which the government could have done better in ensuring that they were addressed. It is clear that the illness of the President and his subsequent untimely death brought a lot of negative developments in the governance and development programs of the Patriotic Front (PF). We noticed poor supervision and implementation of programs by government officials while President Sata was unwell. This brought to the fore the question of our political parties clearly requiring a proper succession plan to avoid the kind of stalemate and confusion that characterized the ruling PF. As SACCORD we also note that succession plans in some of the opposition political parties are required. However, as SACCORD we want to recommend that succession plans must not depart from democratic principles so that all members that want to aspire for positions in a given party are allowed to do so without discrimination.
The PF government also handled the constitution making process in a poor manner as the country did not yet again have a new people driven constitution. The country witnessed in 2014 the need to have new constitutions not only at the national level, but also at the level of political parties owing to the many internal succession wrangles in the ruling and some opposition political parties on account of their party constitutions. The human rights situation was also getting poor with people’s freedoms of association, assembly and expression being disrespected by state agents. The country also saw poor administration of the Farmer Input Support Program with farmers not being paid on time for their produce supplied to government. Zambia further witnessed an increase in political violence which was largely due to the failure by the police to rein in cadres from the ruling PF.
The period also witnessed a deterioration in the state-church relations which was not healthy for unity in the country. The country further saw poor economic practices which saw the kwacha losing value and affecting a lot of businesses. The government policies of removing subsidies also resulted in the increase in the cost of doing business thereby affecting prices of essential commodities negatively. In all there was increased dishonest and intolerance to divergent views by those in government who used state agencies to fight their critics and political opponents.
As we draw into the year 2015, we would like to see a clear improvement in the governance, economics, political and social spheres of the country. The rights of all people in Zambia must be respected and protected by the government. We need a new constitution in 2015 and above all, job creation for a lot of the youths in Zambia who despite being well qualified still lack jobs. The new government must also improve its relations with the business community and not only with a few companies or individuals that have been working with some officials in government. We believe that with the correct leadership and policies, Zambia can overcome the challenges that we have seen in the past and move fast on the road to poverty alleviation and development. It is the responsibility of every Zambian to make sure that the correct leadership is put in place as we go to the 20th January 2015 elections.