PF government on employment creation

By Richard Masheke Akashambatwa

Since the Patriotic Front Party won Zambia’s elections in September, 2011, a lot of pronouncements have been made on the number of employment opportunities created so far.

Most recently, President Michael Sata during the Labour Day celebration said his government had created 195,700, and was determined to create even more jobs (State House website, 2013). This was followed up with numerous screaming praises by PF supporters on the achievements scored so far in the nearly 2 years of PF ascendancy to governance of the Southern African country.

These jubilation has raised a lot of eyebrows in the social science’s community and questions are being asked on the origin of such figures as well as their baseline data.  It is clear that these figures are neither from the Central Statistics Office nor the Labor department or otherwise they would have been quoted accordingly.

It is imperative that issues of such nature are discussed in correct contexts and are analyzed in depth in order to understand were the Country stands in terms of poverty reduction through employment creation and equitable distribution of wealth. It is neither the intention of the author or the publishers to reject the figures given but rather to question their validity and provoke justifiable responses from the generators of such data.

The Labor force; total in Zambia was last reported at 5,510,917.61 in 2010, according to a World Bank report published in 2012. It is also true that Unemployment Rate in Zambia decreased to 15 percent in 2008 from 15.90 percent in 2005. Historically, from 1986 until 2008, Zambia Unemployment Rate averaged 15.0 percent reaching an all-time high of 19.7 percent in December of 1993 and a record low of 12.0 percent in December of 1998 (trading economics, 2013).

Given the above data it is worth noting that moving average was negligible in subsequent years leading up to 2011. Because as at 2011, 63% of the urban 15-19 age group are out of work and this improves to only 48% in the 20-24 age category. In rural areas, 16% of the 15-19 age group and 7% of the 20-24 age group are unemployed (Africa Economic Outlook, 2013).

This creates a better picture of where we stand as a nation unless otherwise countered with different data we are poised to believe the figure given by the President on Labour Day and further announcements on recruitment are a drop in the ocean to the massive employment in the Country.

Given this situation, the PF government has the mandate to facilitate capacity building program in the Ministry of labour and at Central Statistics Office for labor data collection and analysis.

This will empower Statisticians at CSO to give regular updates on trends in the Zambian labour market with independent groups verifying such information. This will result in independent groups in national development to cheer government before they cheer themselves.