I am privileged and honoured today to be with you and the members of Parliament on this important day of our national calendar to officially open the fourth session of the eleventh national assembly. It is now three years since the patriotic front government took office, and there are only two years before the next elections.
In the circumstances, my address this morning will be in two parts, the first being the highlights of the Patriotic Front’s government development programmes to date, its challenges and the way forward, whilst the second part will deal with details and statistics of these programmes and the way forward, which second part i will lay on the table for consideration by the Hon Members and ultimately for consideration by the public.
This session of parliament comes at a time when our country will be celebrating fifty years of independence on 24th October this year. I am glad that such a momentous and historic occasion is coming when the Patriotic Front has the privilege of governing this great nation.
It is my hope that the golden jubilee celebrations provide an opportunity for the people of Zambia to reflect on where we are coming from and plan where we want Zambia to be in the next 50 years.
It is sad to note that on 2nd December 2013, this house lost honourable Dr. Patrick Mwewa Anthony Chikusu, who was member of Parliament for Katuba constituency and Deputy Minister of Health. May his soul rest in peace.
That said, allow me to convey my congratulations to the seven newly elected Members of Parliament. I am certain that you will discharge your responsibilities in this regard sensitive to the important messages communicated by our people to all of us as we campaigned for their votes.
Socio Economic Affairs
Zambia has posted strong indicators of progress in the political, economic and social spheres under the leadership of the patriotic front government. These achievements have been made possible because of our enduring unity, peace and stability. For this, we must be thankful to the Almighty God.
During the last session, the House dealt with matters of great importance affecting the welfare of our people. Members of this august House ably considered and passed legislation and debated on serious and at times delicate matters of national importance in a way which upheld transparency, accountability and good governance. I urge this House to continue fulfilling its legislative and oversight responsibility to the Zambian people.
This House will recall that in my address during the first session of the eleventh National Assembly, I committed our government to move this country forward decisively towards the eradication of poverty and under development
Our government is firmly of the view that meaningful economic transformation is fundamental to our collective prosperity as a nation. Indeed, the country has continued to post robust economic growth in excess of 6 percent since the patriotic front assumed office.
The honourable Minister of Finance will in the next few weeks bring to this House the national budget proposals for 2015. The budget address will highlight the performance of our economy in relation to both regional and international developments and show how these have impacted on the standard of living of our people. I, therefore urge you honourable members of parliament to support this progressive national budget.
To increase fiscal space for infrastructure development government approved the transfer of functions of the public private partnership (PPP) unit to the Zambia Development Agency to facilitate the merger of the two institutions. I therefore direct the ministers responsible for finance and commerce, trade and industry to fully realise the merger in order to optimally use PPP to attract investment in infrastructure projects and hence promote economic development.
Education and Skills
Education and skills development are key to our overall goal of achieving accelerated national development. I am, therefore, happy to report to this House on a number of successes that government has scored in this sector since assuming office.
To improve access to and quality of education, government has completed construction of 41 of the 84 targeted secondary schools representing 49 percent completion rate within a short space of time, while the remaining 43 schools are at various stages of construction.
In my address, to this house last year, I re-affirmed government’s commitment to establishing at least one University in each of the ten provinces. Let me state that construction works are on-going at Robert Makasa, Paul Mushindo and Palabana Universities. As regards, Chalimbana, Mukuba and Kwame Nkhrumah Universities, additional infrastructure is being put in place.
I therefore direct the Minister to accelerate the construction of this infrastructure and start the process to operationalise these institutions in the shortest possible time.
Furthermore, to address the critical shortage of student accommodation in institutions of higher learning, government has embarked on a programme to construct 4,160 bed-space student hostels at the University of Zambia, 3,200 for the Copperbelt University, 1,280 for Mulungushi university and 960 bed spaces at the Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce. The construction is being done under the framework of direct budget support and public private partnership.
Access to quality health services by all our people remains the cornerstone of this government’s health policy.
In line with this policy, government has continued to increase availability of health frontline staff, health infrastructure, drugs and other medical supplies and equipment.
To mitigate the shortage of skilled health personnel, government has been rehabilitating and constructing training institutions. To this effect, two new training institutions are under construction in Senanga and Lusaka at Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital.
In addition, 27 health training institutions country-wide are under rehabilitation and expansion. These works, when completed, will increase the health institution training capacity by 4,500 students bringing the total to 10,000. This includes the 3,000 student capacity health training facility at Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital.
I am delighted to inform the House that the construction of the 650 health posts has started and is expected to be completed by 2016. In the area of district hospitals, government has since 2011 commissioned five district hospitals in Lufwanyama, Chadiza, Chiengi, Nakonde and Shangombo.
In addition, 30 district hospitals are under construction in various parts of the country. By the end of this year, government will embark on the construction of an additional eight district hospitals in Mafinga, Ikelenge, Nalolo, Limulunga, Vubwi, Mansa, Mufulira and Chilubi.
Government is implementing the modernization and upgrading programme aimed at improving the quality of health care and reducing referrals abroad.
I am glad to inform the House that apart from the new construction works, government has procured and installed modern and specialized medical equipment at the University Teaching Hospital, Kitwe and Ndola Central hospitals, and Livingstone General Hospital. The programme will be extended to all the 10 provinces.
Government has also made progress in decentralising the operations of medical stores limited in order to ensure timely and efficient delivery of medicines and medical supplies across the country. To this effect, government decided to establish six regional hubs for Medical Stores Ltd. So far, two regional hubs are fully operational, one in Chipata and the other in Choma, while the Mongu hub will be operational before the end of this year.
Having made some progress in the development of health services in the last three years, i further wish to direct the ministers of health and community development, mother and child health to focus on four measurable outcomes: a radical reduction in deaths of mothers in pregnancy and child birth; elimination of malaria; elimination of mother to child transmission of hiv; and elimination of stock outs in the supply of drugs to health care institutions.
Agriculture remains a key driver of economic growth and poverty reduction. Government’s strategic focus in the agriculture sector is to achieve food security, promote crop diversification, as well as increase productivity and value addition.
In the crop sub-sector, we continue to register significant growth. This year, we achieved a record maize harvest of 3.4 million metric tonnes. This is due to the enabling policies of the government, the hard work of our farmers and favourable weather conditions.
Government continues to give priority to national food security by increasing and upgrading storage capacity throughout the country. In this regard, government has invested a total of k108.5 million to upgrade 27 storage sheds with a total storage capacity of 117,000 metric tonnes. Eight of these sheds have been completed whilst 19 will be completed by the end of this year.
Last year, I informed this House that government planned to bring 17,500 hectares under irrigation for small and medium scale farmers by 2016. Further, i stated that out of this target, 4,500 hectares had been brought under irrigation. This year, an additional 7,000 hectares have been brought under irrigation bringing the total to 11,500 hectares. I therefore direct the minister responsible to cover the remaining 6,000 hectares before the end of next year.
Local Government and Housing
The patriotic front government is committed to decentralisation as a way of bringing services closer to the people and creating employment. I am glad to inform this House that, in 2015, government will empower councils with additional financial resources needed to deliver local services effectivel.
This is an initial step in operationalising the decentralisation policy which i launched in 2013. To this end, a Local Government Equalisation Fund will be established to provide a solid base for further devolution.
I want to direct the ministers of finance and local government to develop an effective mechanism of ensuring a predictable, stable and sustainable source of funds for local development and delivery of municipal services.
Government is committed to ensuring that all citizens have quality and affordable housing. To this end, we are working to resolve the housing deficit through a number of measures. Firstly, we have recapitalized the zambia national building society with an equity contribution of k165 million.
This will enable more of our people to access affordable housing credit. Secondly, we are working with the private sector in closing the housing deficit through public private partnerships.
Government remains committed to improving the standard of living of our people in rural areas by accelerating service delivery. Iam happy to report that all the 32 newly created districts have now been operationalised.
Construction of infrastructure has started in five of these districts, including the upgrading of infrastructure in Choma and Chinsali as new provincial headquarters of southern and muchinga provinces respectively, while construction of district offices and other infrastructure in the remaining 27 districts will commence before the end of the year.
Government has continued implementing the rural electrification programme which is now mainly focusing on new districts. In this regard, sioma and nkeyema in western province have already been electrified while works to connect nalolo, luampa and sikongo are on-going. Government also plans to connect other areas to the national grid. These include Shangombo, Luangwa, Rufunsa, Chama and Lundazi districts, which are currently supplied by diesel generated power.
During my last address to this house, i stated that government had undertaken consultations with various stakeholders on the introduction of legislation that would govern customary land.
I now wish to inform this house that the Customary Land Administration Bill has been drafted and will be tabled before this House in 2015. Once the legislation is enacted, it will ensure that the interests of local people in the rural farming communities are protected and promoted as well as improve the possibilities for better economic utilisation of land.
Labour and Social Security
Despite continuing improvements in the capacity of the economy to create new jobs, the issue of unemployment remains one of our major challenges. In this regard, government has adopted an industrialisation and job creation strategy focusing on specific growth sectors such as agro-processing, manufacturing, tourism, construction, creative industries, information technology, metal fabrication, steel production, clothing and textiles.
I am pleased to inform this house that, government has created over 456, 539 formal jobs in various sectors of the economy since 2011
The construction sector holds enormous potential for job creation and alleviation of poverty for the majority of Zambians. Since 2011, the sector has created a total of 93, 487 jobs. I wish to direct all the ministries, provinces and spending agencies to ensure that 20 percent sub- contracting and job creation for locals should be part of the evaluation criteria for award of all contracts.
In addition, government will continue to pay particular attention to the further growth of the small and medium business to promote job creation.
Investment and State Owned
Government is keen to raise the rate of investment in the economy. In the last three years, government attracted a total of 5.2 billion united states dollars in foreign direct investment. This is a clear indication that our country is an attractive investment destination.
Government will, therefore, continue to improve the business environment aimed at attracting more investments into the country.
Government has finally established the industrial development corporation to oversee and manage the state-owned enterprises, as well as complement private sector investment in strategic areas. Government has also been recapitalizing a number of state owned enterprises for them to run on a commercial basis and contribute to the treasury.
The state owned enterprises recapitalised so far include National Savings and Credit Bank, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings, Zambia National Building Society, Zambia Railways Limited and Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia.
I wish to direct the Secretary to the Cabinet to operationalise the corporation and ensure that state owned enterprises list on the stock exchange to improve their operations and capital base.
The country has made significant progress in export diversification. Non-traditional exports now account for 33 percent of total export earnings from 20.9 percent in 2011. The minister of commerce should do more to improve our country’s export performance, focusing on services and manufactured goods.
Government has continued to place great importance on roads infrastructure development. Progress is being made on all major road projects such as Link Zambia 8000, Pave Zambia 2000 and Lusaka 400. The Link Zambia 8000 project is progressing well with 22 works contracts signed as of july 2014, covering 2,245 kilometers. The major road projects include Leopards Hill road to Chirundu in Lusaka province and the Kitwe to Chingola dual carriageway on the Copperbelt.
Other works include the bottom road in southern province, Mongu-Kalabo in western province, Itezhi-tezhi-’Mumbwa in Central Province, Chipata-Chadiza-katete in eastern province, kawambwa-mushota in luapula province, chingola-solwezi road and the mbala-nakonde road.
Completed roads include Kasama-Luwingu in Northern province, Sesheke-Senenga in Western province and Mutanda-Chavuma in North-western province. Under pave zambia 2000, distribution of equipment has been completed in all the 10 provinces. The lusaka 400 project involving construction, maintenance, rehabilitation and upgrading of roads around the city is in full gear. I therefore direct the ministers of transport and finance to speed up the construction of roads under these projects.
In the electricity sub-sector, government has continued to implement projects in generation, transmission and distribution. The total generation capacity was 1,669 megawatts in 2011 and this has risen to 2,310 megawatts as of 2014.
The increase is attributed to, among others, completed projects such as the 360 megawatts kariba north bank hydro power extension project and the 50 megawatt ndola heavy fuel oil plant. Progress is also being made to complete the itezhi-tezhi hydro power and mamba thermal power projects, while work is on-going on the kafue gorge lower and lusiwasi hydro power projects.
Mining continues to play a significant role in the economy as a source of employment, foreign exchange earnings and contribution to the gross domestic product. With regard to copper production, output in 2011 was 667,604 metric tonnes which rose to 697,900 metric tonnes in 2012. Copper production in 2013 stood at 765,037 metric tonnes. Production is expected to reach one million metric tonnes annually by 2017.
Gemstones have become an important contributor to the growth of the mining sector and the economy since the patriotic front assumed office. In 2011, total gemstones sales stood at 32.4 million united states dollars and this rose to 40.4 million united states dollars in 2012. In 2013, the sales significantly increased to 100.5 million united states dollars. The sharp increase in sales was as a result of the PF government’s initiative to auction emeralds locally.
I therefore direct that the ministry responsible ensures that all small scale miners in the gemstone industry participate in these auctions.
In recognition of the critical role of the mining industry to the prosperity of our country, i wish to direct the ministers of finance and mines to come up with consistent policies that will guarantee transparency and accountability in the declaration of minerals produced and exported. We need to ensure a win-win situation for both the nation and mining investors.
Governance and Administration
of the State
Government will continue to promote gender and child development in all its programmes. The prevalence of gender based violence is unacceptable. Further, child pregnancies and early marriages remain a challenge in the country. Government will continue to put in place stringent measures to protect women and children from all forms abuse.
To ensure gender equity in the development process, the PF government has appointed and maintained a high number of our womenfolk in leadership and decision making positions. Let me encourage our womenfolk to stand up and be counted, for there is still room for their participation in the leadership of this country. Government remains committed to promoting democracy and good governance. These are fundamental to creating, securing and maintaining a just Zambia. Government embarked on a review of our legal and justice system, beginning with the Constitution. Let me report that government has received the draft constitution and is in the process of guiding the nation on the next course of action. My advice to the Zambian people is that let us divorce our partisan and personal interests from this process which we should all ensure is a credible legacy to many generations to come.
Across the width and breadth of our country, the evidence is there for all to see that Zambia is going through an unprecedented record of infrastructure development in health, education, roads, communication, energy and agriculture, among others.
Going forward, the focus of our government for now and beyond will be achieving the necessary rates of economic growth and development by addressing issues of higher rates of investment, job creation, economic restructuring and improved efficiency and productivity, and greater social equity so as to realise the goal of a better Zambia for all.
Before i lay this comprehensive mid-term review report on the table, it is now my honour and privilege to declare the fourth session of the eleventh national assembly officially open.
May God bless you all and our great nation, Zambia.