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