By Bernadette Deka-Zulu (PhD Researcher – Public Enterprise)
AS Zambia stands on the brink of unveiling its national budget for 2024, my heart brims with a fervent passion for the well-being of marginalised communities and the vulnerable orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) who bear the brunt of economic downturns.
Zambians have cultivated great expectations for this forthcoming budget, anticipating far more than just a financial plan. They are yearning for a budget that transcends the ordinary, one that exemplifies transparent governance, propels economic diversification, and upholds debt sustainability.
In this article, I shall delve into the core of these expectations, stemming from a profound desire to see Zambia emerge as a nation that truly cares for its disadvantaged populations.
It is a vision where no one goes hungry, where opportunities flourish, and where every citizen, regardless of their circumstances, can partake in the nation’s progress.
The 2024 budget holds the key to this vision, and the aspirations of millions of Zambians hinge upon its unveiling.
In the intricate tapestry of Zambia’s 2024 budget expectations, two intertwined threads emerge as crucial priorities: debt sustainability and hunger alleviation. These aspects not only reflect the pressing needs of the nation but also underscore our commitment to fostering a more equitable society.
Tackling the debt quandary
Zambia has grappled with a mounting debt burden, a concern that can no longer be ignored. As we eagerly anticipate the 2024 budget, one prevailing expectation is that it will chart a path to decelerate the accumulation of new debt.
This journey toward debt sustainability necessitates a multifaceted approach, potentially involving negotiations for more favorable debt terms, exploration of refinancing options, or even the contemplation of debt restructuring.
To draw insights for this endeavor, we can look to other developing nations that have navigated similar waters. Countries like Ghana and Kenya have successfully managed their debt crises by adopting prudent fiscal measures, such as debt consolidation and proactive engagement with creditors.
Conversely, nations like Mozambique serve as cautionary tales, highlighting the dire consequences of unchecked borrowing.
A hunger-free Zambia
While addressing the debt conundrum is vital, we cannot overlook the stark reality of hunger that has plagued our nation. The introduction of robust social safety nets represents a beacon of hope for incapacitated households and orphaned vulnerable children.
These safety nets encompass a wide array of initiatives, from comprehensive food security programs to school feeding schemes.
Looking to our global neighbours, we find that some developing countries have made significant strides in eradicating hunger. Brazil’s Bolsa Família programme, for instance, provides direct cash transfers to impoverished families, significantly reducing poverty and food insecurity.
On the other hand, Zimbabwe’s experience serves as a stark reminder of the perils of neglecting hunger alleviation, leading to widespread malnutrition and economic instability.
As the country’s 2024 budget unfolds, it stands at a pivotal juncture. It is a moment for us to heed the lessons of nations that have walked this path before, forging a sustainable future and ensuring that no Zambian goes to bed hungry.
It is an opportunity to showcase our commitment to the marginalised and the OVCs, heralding an era where compassion and progress walk hand in hand.
Transparency in government spending
In the grand tapestry of Zambia’s budgetary expectations for 2024, one vibrant thread stands out: the call for unwavering transparency in government spending. As someone deeply committed to the welfare of marginalised communities and orphaned vulnerable children, I understand the profound impact that transparent governance can have on our nation’s most vulnerable.
At the heart of this expectation is the sincere desire for the government to provide its citizens with a crystal-clear view of how public funds are allocated and utilised.
Zambians seek more than just vague figures and broad categories; they yearn for detailed breakdowns of expenditures, ensuring that every Kwacha is accounted for. This transparency is not a mere administrative formality but a potent tool for building trust and enhancing accountability.
In our journey toward fostering a more equitable society, transparency in government spending is the compass that points us in the right direction.
It empowers citizens to actively engage in the governance process, enabling them to question, analyse, and contribute to decisions that affect their lives.
By championing transparency, we take a resolute step toward ensuring that the marginalised and the OVCs are not left in the shadows but are brought into the light of accountable governance.
Accelerating diversification of the economy:
Zambia’s economic landscape, like the vibrant colours of a mosaic, is a mosaic of potential waiting to be realised. However, the overreliance on copper as the cornerstone of our economy has cast a shadow of vulnerability, subjecting us to the capricious winds of global price fluctuations.
In this tapestry of economic aspirations, there is a strong thread of hope woven into the fabric of Zambia’s 2024 budget.
We anticipate that this budget will prioritise the imperative of economic diversification – concept that transcends fiscal policy and touches the lives of every Zambian. Diversifying our economy means venturing beyond the confines of the mining sector and exploring new horizons in agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and beyond.
It’s not just about economic arithmetic; it’s about nurturing the seeds of job opportunities and shielding our economy from the tempestuous storms of overdependence on a single commodity.
This endeavour is not without inspiration from our global peers. Nations like Malaysia have successfully diversified their economies, propelling themselves from agrarian landscapes to dynamic, industrial powerhouses.
Conversely, the perils of economic monoculture are vividly illustrated by Venezuela, a nation left in economic tatters due to its overreliance on oil.
As Zambia’s 2024 budget unfolds, we stand at a crossroads. It’s a moment for us to embrace the spectrum of opportunities that diversification brings – a moment for growth, resilience, and inclusivity.
And as we embark on this journey, let us ensure that every stroke of economic diversification paints a brighter future for the marginalized, the OVCs, and every Zambian who dreams of a more prosperous tomorrow.
Expectations regarding the Constituency Development Fund
Lastly, constituencies across the country anticipate an increased allocation to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in the 2024 budget. The CDF serves as a lifeline for local development projects and community needs.
To meet these expectations, constituents are calling for enhanced transparency and oversight mechanisms. They seek active community engagement in project selection, equitable distribution of funds, and strict adherence to regulations to curb misuse and corruption.
In conclusion, Zambia’s 2024 budget carries the hopes and aspirations of its citizens. It must embody the principles of transparency, economic diversification, debt sustainability, and social safety nets to uplift marginalised communities, empower vulnerable groups, and chart a path towards a more equitable and prosperous future for all Zambians.
The budget isn’t merely a financial plan; it’s a blueprint for the country’s development, and the public eagerly awaits its unveiling.