23rd February, 2022: Media Statement by the CSOs Access to Information (ATI) Coalition
The Members of the CSOs Access to Information (ATI) Coalition Present; The Media - All protocol observed; May I simply say distinguished ladies, gentlemen welcome to this media briefing by the CSOs ATI Coalition. It is in three (3) parts: The introduction, the main body or issues and the conclusion. 1. INTRODUCTION Fellow Citizens and the Media It was upon acknowledging the need for a strong, stable, efficacy and professionally managed not- for- profit civil society organizations whose work is primarily orientated and focused on and around one of the fundamental Human Rights element of Access to Information that this coalition was founded and continue to exist in Zambia; Cognizant that access to information which is the ability for an individual to seek, receive and impart information effectively, is a human right, which is provided for under the international law and which must be enjoyed by everyone, CSOs through the ATI Coalition have pledged to ensure their participation in the formulation, validation and further scrutiny of the ATI Bill at all levels including monitoring its implementation after its enactment. Full statement here
Yesterday marked the 13th year since the United Nations General Assembly declared 20th February as the World Day of Social Justice. The objective of the day is to raise a voice against social injustices happening across the world in various forms. The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), joins the rest of the world in raising its voice to commemorate the observance of this important day. In the current context of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic underpinned by the 2022 theme of “Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment”, a key point of reflection that should come to mind is that social justice is only possible when effective steps are taken to address the rising inequalities such as unequal access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
JCTR recognises that at the heart of economic transformation, the importance of labour as an active factor of production cannot be overemphasised. Labour however should not be looked at entirely as a factor of production without the consideration of a human face. Every person is entitled to opportunities that help them earn a living without demeaning or undermining an individual’s dignity. Decent employment creation therefore provides citizens of the nation with forms of sustainable livelihoods where they have access to income to demand for goods and services that allow them to live dignified lives.
Cognizant of the some of the challenges that households face, JCTR commends the efforts of the Zambian Government that have been put in place through various policies aimed at cushioning its citizenry. Some of the country’s interventions have focused on nutrition/health and social protection. Specifically, for formal employment some policies have included revision of the minimum wage and conditions of employment. As seen from the cost of living as measured by the JCTR Basic Needs and Nutritious Basket, the cost for a family of five in Lusaka of basic food and non-items for month of January 2022 stood at K9, 049.25. The upward revision of the non-taxable income threshold in the approved 2022 National budget is therefore positive as it will provide, to some limited extent, an additional protection against economic shocks.
Despite placing decent employment and employment creation as a priority at the center of the Government’s plans in line with the long term Vision 2030, there has been a persistent weakness with regards to implementation and measurement of employment creation. Full statement here
The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), is elated by the government’s commitment to implement the ‘free education' policy direction through the 2022 National Budget. The goal of this policy is to make education more accessible and affordable in Zambia. This is a positive step toward the State fulfilling its commitment under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). This commitment has been further solidified by the timely release of ZMW324 million in January as the 2022 first quarter operational support fund for public schools. These funds are aimed at facilitating the implementation of free education for all learners at early childhood, primary, and secondary education levels. JCTR urges the government to continue promoting pro-poor policies in social services delivery, beyond the focus of education.
However, as is always the case whenever new policies are being introduced, challenges are bound to arise. So far cases of theft of school funds, congestion of schools, corruption and abuse of authority have been recorded following the implementation of free education. Consideration of how learners are going to access and benefit from the free education policy is critical in guaranteeing that every child has access to education. Particularly, with congestion of schools comes unfavorable teacher to pupil ratios which manifest in a teacher's workload and how each teacher is available to offer services and care to the students. Given the role that quality education plays in the development of the country’s economy and society, JCTR is thus concerned about the system's weaknesses, which can easily be misused or abused if not diligently safeguarded. Read More>>>