Cultivate Nation Principles and Values Without Reminder for the Common Good
Cultivate Nation Principles and Values Without Reminder for the Common Good His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema on Friday 11th March, 2022 presented to the National Assembly and indeed the entire Zambian population an update on the progress made in the application of national values and principles. The State of the Nation Address (SONA) is a constitutional requirement in accordance with Articles 9 and 86 (1) of the Zambian Constitution. Considering the focus of the address, the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) provides a social justice perspective in keen consideration of the plight of the vulnerable, the marginalised and the poor whose well-being squarely lies on those vested with authority upholding values such as integrity and social justice. The recent address by the President sets a baseline on which various stakeholders will further monitor and evaluate government’s mandate to cultivate and uphold the nations values and principles. Prominent issues such as commitments to tackle corruption and climate change, enhance accountability, end child marriages and teenage pregnancies, reduce the abuse of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), doing away with perennial and costly by-elections, workforce dignity, youth unemployment etc., have been noted. Read more
On Tuesday 22nd February 2022, the Ministry of Agriculture suspended the importation of onions and potatoes. This was done in response to a request from the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) who raised concern that the flooding of imported onions and potatoes on the market risked having the country record losses. Specifically, for onion, losses are estimated at over K23 million if the matter remained unaddressed.
The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) wishes to highlight that this ban is not a new intervention. The ZNFU in February 2021 again requested government to ban the importation of onions and potatoes anchored on the premise of promoting consumption of local products and supporting local production of agriculture products. The ban was however lifted in April 2021 in view of the recorded supply deficit as a result of the importation ban. Locally grown onions were however, unable to meet national demand. Read More>>>
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>>>
Under the new administration government, the Zambian economy has posited some notable positives suggesting that the efforts to recalibrate the ailing economy through favorable and stable policies will begin to pay off. The gain in the currency whose effect has trickled down into other areas of the economy can be noted. This is in tandem with goodwill from the international community which has seemingly further pushed the notable gains in the direction of economic resurgence. The Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Debt Alliance1 , commends Government for the strides made so far in reaching the Staff Level Agreement (SLA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the swift turnaround in achieving the much-needed agreement. The SLA will accord the government a chance to free up resources and channel them into key sectors of the economy as it works to change the economic disposition of the nation. Read more>>
One resolve of any democratic nation is to have in place a supreme law of the land that is not only people driven, but able to stand the test of time serving as a basis for sustainable peace, unity and development. The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) notes with great concern the continued existence of ambiguities with regard to the current constitution, its interpretation, and more specifically, in this case, the weaknesses of Zambia’s electoral processes. The recent cancellation of the Kabwata parliamentary by-elections serves well as an illustration of the issues that call for reforms. According to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) the Kabwata parliamentary by-election was scheduled to take place on 20th January, 2022. The seat in question fell vacant after the demise of the elected ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) Member of Parliament Honourable Levy Mkandawire. In a turn of events, ECZ through their Chief Electoral Officer on 10th January, 2022 announced the cancellation of the Kabwata parliamentary by-elections pursuant to Article 52(6) of the Republican Constitution, following the withdrawal of one of the contesting candidates Read more>>
The Zambian Government recently reached a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) team on a new arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for 2022-2025 to help it restore its macroeconomic stability and provide the foundation for an inclusive economic recovery. The Staff-Level Agreement between the IMF and the Government of Zambia stipulates the economic policies, financial policies and reforms which the Government will take up over time. This three-year extended credit facility is worth about SDR 980 million or $1.4 billion and it brings Zambia one step closer to a comprehensive debt overhaul. We should all bear in mind that this ECF is yet to be approved by the IMF’s management and Executive Board.
Even though the staff-level agreement is yet to be approved, it is already bearing fruits for Zambia and this can be seen in the Zambian kwacha (ZMW) appreciating against the United States (US) dollar. Following the announcement of the staff-level agreement, the Zambian kwacha appreciated to K16.0000 per dollar on 9th December, 2021, from a close of K17.8078 on 2nd December, 2021. Entities or individuals holding foreign exchange are likely to start converting to the Zambian Kwacha to avoid further foreign exchange losses. The current high US dollar supply and sudden inflows into Zambia of US dollars is coming from off-shore market players and corporations closing off their dollar positions. The Zambian kwacha (ZMW) is expected to continue making further gains against the US dollar due to positive sentiment from the staff-level agreement reached between the IMF and the Zambian Government for a bailout. Market fundamentals have remained largely unchanged and this means that the current appreciation in the Zambian kwacha against the dollar is only being driven by investor sentiment.
As long as the Zambian kwacha’s appreciation is sustained, it could contribute to fighting current high inflation levels and compliment the Bank of Zambia’s Monetary Policy Rate adjustment by 50 basis points to 9%. This means that fewer Zambian kwachas will be needed to buy US dollars.
Zambia is a highly indebted country and most of the debt was accumulated in the last decade by the previous Patriotic Front (PF) Government. It was the previous PF Government’s expansionary fiscal policies that contributed to Zambia’s debt problems. The PF Government’s expansionary fiscal policies for public investments, despite falling revenues, contributed to widening fiscal deficits (8.3% of GDP in 2019 and 11% of GDP in 2020). The PF Government’s expansionary fiscal policies, which were mainly financed by external and local borrowing, led to Zambia’s public and publicly guaranteed debt to rise to 91.6% of GDP in 2019 and 104% of GDP in 2020. In the medium term, Zambia’s debt to GDP ratio is expected to remain high. On 3rd November 2020, Zambia became the first African country to default on its international debt since the outbreak of Covid-19, as it couldn’t make the $42.5 million in interest payments on its three Eurobonds in mid-October and it also couldn’t honour payments at the end of the grace period given by the investors. Read more
On 16th December, 2021, the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) announced fuel price adjustments. Wholesale and pump prices for petroleum products were revised upwards effective midnight 16th December, 2021. The pump price of one litre of Petrol has increased by K3.54 and now pegged at K21.16 from K17.62. The pump price of one litre of diesel was also increased by K4.56 to K20.15 from K15.59. The pump price of one litre of Low Sulphur Gasoil (LSG) was increased from K17.82 to K22.29 which gives an absolute variance of K4.47. Kerosene prices have remained unchanged. This follows an announcement by the government that fuel subsidies will be removed so as to migrate to cost reflective pricing as a measure to return the nation on a path to debt sustainability. This adjustment is part of the economic reforms being implemented by the United Party for National Development (UPND) Government as part of its staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Read more
INCREASE IN THE MONETARY POLICY RATE MAY WORSEN LIVING CONDITIONS
The cost of living for a family of five as measured by the JCTR Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) for November 2021 stood at K8, 145.28. This is a K123.44 decrease from K8, 268.72 in October 2021. The downward movement in the basket is attributed to reduced prices of items such as 1kg Kapenta which went down by K56.76 from K290.63 to K233.87, 40kg of vegetables which went down by K14.83 from K438.62 to K423.79. Additional reductions were noted in the prices of 14kg of other fruits which reduced by K204.9 from K314.65 to K109.75. However, the November basket also recorded price increases in items such as 10 litres of milk which increased by K52.84 from K244.26 to K297.1, 1kg pounded groundnuts increased by K13.68 from K34.97 to K48.65, 2kg soya pieces increased from K113.68 to K126.46. Additionally, the non-food but essential items section also recorded an increase in a 90kg bag of charcoal from K360 to K378. Read more
kindly attribute the statement to Ms Muchimba Sarah Siamachoka- Manager Faith and Justice