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Zambia Government Committed to Creating Jobs, Says Official

The leader of the Zambian opposition Patriotic Front (PF), Michael "King Cobra" Sata (C), leaves on September 20, 2011 a polling station after inspecting voting procedures in Lusaka during national elections.
An official of Zambia’s government says the administration is implementing policies to boost employment.

Information, Broadcasting and Labor Minister Fackson Shamenda said he will soon be organizing a workshop to encourage private and public sector partnerships that will create jobs, especially for young people.

“[The president] puts the interest of the citizens at heart. He has always had a passion for the poor and he wants to have a just society to the extent that is humanly possible,” said Shamenda.

His comments came after President Michael Sata insisted that his government is focused on long-term jobs for Zambians as opposed to casual, or temporary, employment.

Mr. Sata was quoted as saying “we want to provide employment where … when you provide employment for one person, he will create some more …For example, if you have people working, then people in the market will also be employed because they will have [consumers] who are going to buy the goods.”

Critics say the president has so far failed to provide work for young people. They said Sata’s failure will undermine the ruling Patriotic Front in the upcoming local level elections.

Shamenda said the ruling party’s manifesto outlines policies the nine-month old government will be implementing to reduce unemployment.

“It’s very clear about job creation and about doing away with casualization [temporary workers] and putting human beings at the center of all the activities that we do…but not necessarily saying that we are going to nationalize or we go back to the [old] way we use to run the…economy,” Shamenda said.

“The president believes we can have a win-win situation. We will take care of those who work and those who have invested so they will have proper returns.”

Shamenda said the government is committed to keeping its promise of changing the way business is done, by creating jobs for the youth.

Officials acknowledge that unemployment is high for youth – who make up over 65 percent of the population. President Sata says he’s challenging challenges his ministers to find ways of creating jobs for them.

“We got into government so that we can provide the necessary environment for jobs to be created, and this has been our priority,” said Shamenda.

He says the ministry of finance is discussing job creation with the International Labor Organization and the IMF.

He adds that high youth unemployment is a global phenomenon.

“I will soon be organizing a workshop…involving all the stakeholders, bringing government executives. The best people to talk to you about how to create jobs are the people in the private sector, people who are running companies… We want to know what their successes are and how they can help the government to create more jobs.”

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