ULP Manifesto 2007 Zambia
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United Liberal Party (ULP)
ZAMBIA THE COUNTRY FOR ALL
Zambia, situated in Southern Africa, is a land-locked country covering 752,612 square kilometres with a population of about 10 million people. Zambia is the third most urbanized country in Africa, with almost 50% Zambians living in urban areas, especially along the line of rail. Zambia is a potentially rich country with abundant natural resources such as land, water, minerals, forests and their biodiversity. Although it has 42 million hectares of arable land, only 6% is cropped annually, mostly under rain-fed agriculture. Rain-fed agriculture comes under severe threat during drought periods. Zambia has a mixed economy consisting of a modern urban-oriented sector confined to the line of rail, and a rural agricultural sector. After attaining political independence in 1964, Zambia was classified as a middle income country and one of the richest countries in Africa. From that time, state-run conglomerates called parastatals dominated the economic sector. Copper mining, the country’s symbol of economic wealth, contributing 95% of export earnings and 45% of government revenue during the decade after political independence, came under severe pressure as world copper prices fell in the mid 1970s. From a production of 713,000 metric tonnes in 1976 to about 300,000 tonnes in 1996, Zambia’s copper mines have continued to register losses and dwindling contribution to the country’s gross domestic product. Since the 1990s, the shrinking mining sector and widespread closures of most industries have compounded the problem of unemployment. Current data indicate that the majority of Zambians in both urban and rural areas are not in formal employment, with only 29% of women living in urban areas working in the formal sector. The shrinking job market, inflation, and the corresponding erosion of real earnings have reduced the capacity of most households to afford basic needs. Poverty and hunger now characterise most households — with per capita incomes of less than US$20. More than 80% of the Zambian population lives in abject poverty and squalor. In addition, Gini coefficients depict that 60% of the country’s income is enjoyed by less than 10% of the population, while 40% of the income is shared by more than 90% of the population.
LOST AND SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITIES FOR DEVELOPMENT
The ULP ascertains with great concern that in the period that the MMD has been in power, our country has been brought into economic chaos and the population is in despair. Political gimmicks and the MMD’s ulterior interests have compromised economic reforms by promoting policies that are inadequate to the national character. The incompetence, dilettantism, the absence and the incoherence of the current government decisions, vis-à-vis the prognosis set up by the ULP specialists, lead us to the conclusion that the achievement of Zambia’s economic straightening is impossible if the MMD government is maintained in power. It is time to recognise that the failure of governing must be stopped immediately if Zambia is to have another chance for economic and social recovery. The successive budgets under the MMD government have not been budgets of austerity, as they claim, but budgets of despair and trickery. Under these circumstances, the ULP finds it absolutely necessary to urgently apply a programme of reconstruction that is aimed at stopping the continued economic decline, create a favourable and stimulative economic background, remake the credibility of our country abroad and, above all, promote real reforms with bearable pace and social costs to the whole population. In this context, the agreements with international bodies must be negotiated and concluded with professionalism, for the benefit of our people so as to allow, concurrently, access to foreign financing, economic recovery, protection of national output, and gradual diminishing of the harsh social costs of the economic reforms. The ULP recognizes that the support of the people is essential if the objectives of our reforms are to be attained. Treating contemptuously the needs of the citizens, ignoring them, changing the reforms into a dogma that must be applied at any cost, even at the expense of life, can create big social discontents and dangers to democracy. In Zambia today, there is too much tension and hatred which cannot be cured by the stick of the police or by tear gas, neither can these ills be cured by diversions nor attempts to compromise and blackmail political opponents. Zambia’s socio-economic and political crises will be worse if we do not replace this confrontation with dialogue, and the dictates of the strong with consensus. Open-ended liberalisation and poor application of market reforms have shifted Zambia from a producer nation to a consumer and supermarket economy. Manufacturing, Mining and Agriculture have collapsed rendering Zambia’s competitive participation in the regional and international economic blocs meaningless. The decade of the MMD in government thus constitutes a lost and squandered opportunities, a scenario that should be frowned upon by the Zambian people. That is why the year 2006 is a crucial year for the future of the Zambian economy and society. Our country can be a victim of chaos and violence if those who lead Zambia will not succeed to stop the collapse of the economy and the deteriorating living standards of the population. We will not succeed to solve social conflicts peacefully if we negate dialogue and negotiation. The MMD government has no solutions at all for this country, at the economic, social and political levels. The ULP, therefore, offers the Zambian people, not only new ideas, a new course, and a new President, but also the promise of opportunity, the dignity of work, and a decent life for all. We will act decisively and ask to be held accountable if we fail to deliver on our promises.