The year 2022 comes to a close with a key policy announcement made by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security on Tuesday, December 27, 2022, on the revised upward adjustment to the minimum wages for un-unionized employees; domestic workers, shopkeepers, and general workers, which will take effect in January 2023. This intervention is being made in the light of the most recent revision which was completed in 2018 for specified groups of employment workers. The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), as an organization whose mission is to improve justice and equality for all, particularly the poor and vulnerable, has examined the proposed minimum wage increase from a critical social justice standpoint and offers the following observations and recommendations.
The pursuit of salary increases in any context must be viewed as a collective bargaining process or rather a balancing act in which the state seeks to reconcile workers' demands with employers' ability to meet that minimum wage. According to the Employment Code Act No.3 of 2019, a review of minimum wages and working conditions for any group of employees must be made to the Minister at least every two years, with recommendations provided. In this regard, the JCTR applauds the efforts that have been made and initiated from an evidence-based standpoint (through research) to revise wages upward through the Labour Advisory Committee. A committee comprised of members with diverse expertise.
However, the stark reality remains...read more
In 2022 the government has managed to stabilize the economy by taming its own’s appetite to borrow as a way of addressing fiscal deficit. Zambia leveraged on the international community, donor, investor and market confidence to stabilize the Kwacha and drive down the inflation. The IMF bailout package worked very well as an icing on the cake in turning the economy around. Now we look to the debt restructuring negotiations under the G20 Common Framework. We expect the negotiations to be successfully completed by the mid of 2023 to accord our country a new lease of life on a path of debt sustainability.
In 2022 people across the globe have been reeling under the pressure of the rising cost of living occasioned multiple crises of COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the rising of commodity prices especially on petroleum products and food due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Here in Zambia we have not been spared by these external shocks. The major driver of the cost of living in Zambia has been the introduction of the cost reflective tariffs on the petroleum products back in November 2021. The new fuel pump prices had an immediate knock-on-effect on commodity prices. For instance for the JCTR Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (for basic food items and essential non-food items) for a family of 5 in Lusaka exceeded K9,000.00 for the first time in January 2022. The cost of living has generally remained high throughout the year. It is hard to predict the trend of the cost of living in 2023. This will largely depend on the two factors (the performance of the Kwacha and the international oil prices) that ERB work with as they review the monthly fuel pump prices. Another important factor will be climatic conditions (floods or drought) in the 2022-2023 farming season which will inevitably affect the commodity prices of food items.
ne of great success stories of 2022 is the job creation in the public sector with the recruitment of over 30,000 teachers and over 11,200 health professionals. This is very important when one considers that over 40,000 people and their dependents have been provided with a steady income stream and a lifeline in a country where unemployment levels are critically high. According to the 2023 National Budget, there shall be no repeat of the job creation extravaganza of the same magnitude in 2023. One of the key milestones of 2022 was the launch of the 8th National Development Plan as an economic blueprint aimed at improving living standards as well as reducing poverty and inequality by creating conditions for strong and inclusive growth and promoting an economic transformation and job creation through the implementation of interventions to enhance production and productivity in the agriculture, tourism, mining and manufacturing sectors.
The agriculture sector in Zambia remains very critical potential for economic growth and development. In the early 2000s, the agriculture sector contributed over 20 percent of GDP and created over 72 percent jobs in the country. In 2021, agriculture sector contribution to GDP stood at 2.96 percent1 and created less than 48 percent of jobs in the country. Read more