The 195,000 new jobs touted by government are pure fiction as they do not offer any solutions to poverty alleviation in the country, says the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR).
The jobs, according to JCTR national coordinator Leonard Chiti were in the Arts industry and did not have any bearing on national productivity.
“After seeking clarifications, we realize the 195,000 jobs are in the arts industry with musicians and painters included, but we know that not all musicians are gifted and mostly there very few who flourish,” Father Chiti said.
He said in Zambia, the most reliable job creation should be adequate investment in agriculture where there was a broad spectrum of beneficiaries through input manufacturers and distributors, transporters, and the farming community.
“How does this investment contribute to Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? How does it impact on the distribution of the national cake? How does it affect the rural areas especially the farmers?” he questioned.
And Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) Executive director Pukuta Mwanza says creation of those jobs as claimed would have required huge investment.
Reverend Mwanza said the creation of that number of jobs required huge investments making government claims unrealistic because of the high poverty levels in the country.
“In order to be fair there should be some verifiable information from the civil society, the labour commissioners and even the Zambia Federation of Employers (ZEF) so that we see what kind of jobs these are otherwise if the government is talking about street vendors then that is too colossal a number to be appreciated,” he said.
“While the numbers look interesting on paper, the reality of the jobs is not substantial. It is not something we can call sustainable jobs for the Zambian people,” Fr Chiti said.
He said what government needed to do was to invest in private sector development which was a more viable exercise for job creation as opposed to exclusive concentration on arts work. He said it was surprising that government should invest in an industry that had a timeline and only benefited a few individuals at the expense of national development.
He explained that a number of companies should be established in order to be able to provide work for the numbers being mentioned by government.
The high poverty levels told a different story of the employment situation in the country.
“Its unfortunate that such numbers can be perceived to thus refer to the fact that the government was doing well when in fact it is meant to be political rhetoric,” Rev Mwanza said.
He said job creation was essential for the reduction of poverty in the country, but that government should be realistic with the figures so that Zambian people could enjoy the benefits of the new jobs being created. The two clergymen were reacting to President Michael Sata’s pronouncements that the Patriotic Front (PF) government has created 195,000 for Zambians since coming into power almost 2 years ago. PF gained popularity towards the 2011 general elections following its campaign promises of improving job creation once voted into office.