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Zambia Government to Bridge Income Divide, Says Official

  • Peter Clottey

Zambia's new President Michael Sata, right, takes the oath of office on the steps of the supreme court in Lusaka, September 23, 2011.

Zambia's new President Michael Sata, right, takes the oath of office on the steps of the supreme court in Lusaka, September 23, 2011.

Zambia’s President Michael Sata is scheduled to name his Cabinet Thursday. A senior official of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) says the new government will deliver on its promise to bridge the divide between the rich and the poor.

Guy Scott, vice president of the PF, says the new administration will also work to improve the economy and to reduce youth unemployment.

“The first thing is to get money to poor people,” said Scott. "It’s a very divided country in terms of income. There are some very rich people, a small number, and a lot of people that are not even employed, who are not benefiting from the so-called trickledown effect of the high copper prices.”

He said the government will focus on improving the delivery of government services.

“We have clinics, and we have all the drugs that we need,” said Scott. “But when you go to the clinics, you find out that there is a shortage of drugs… including antiretroviral drugs and insulin. This is due to just a combination of bad management and corruption.”

Sata promised Zambians will see “massive improvement” within his first 90 days in office.

Scott underscored the need for the administration to keep its pledge. He asserts that voters will be “unforgiving” in the next election if the ruling PF fails to live up to its promises.

Shortly after meeting the Chinese envoy to Zambia, President Sata urged Chinese investors to obey Zambia’s laws. In the past, Sata has threatened to deport “fake” Chinese investors. Critics say some Chinese firms pay Zambian workers low wages, and treat them poorly.

Scott said employees working for Chinese investors are now being treated fairly.

“Some employers, especially the Chinese, have increased the wages of their employees because of the pro-poor focus of the PF government,” said Scott. “There is a new kind of enthusiasm that has been sort of ignited in Zambia, and I think you will find a number of programs… that will be set in motion and properly executed.”

Some members of the defeated Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) have reportedly gone into hiding for the fear for their lives, after partisans of the PF party allegedly attacked them.

Scott admitted pockets of violence, but denied it is widespread.

“The solid reports of retribution are very few,” said Scott. “The accusations are gratuitous.”

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