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Saturday, 3 February 2007

5th National Development Plan

An e-mail user group friend recently passed around the latest copy of the 5th National Development Plan.

Fifth National Development Plan 2006 - 10

I was so excited to finally see the version of what the Government describes as a document " formulated after lengthy consultations to ensure representation from many people and subjection to accountability and transparency". Infact the Government has gone on record to say the 5th NDP is seeking "means of improving living standards of people and provide interactive ways of fostering development". - So does the NDP really do these things? I think this is important a simple google search revealved that this issue has not really been discussed extensively among Zambian Economists in diaspora. This is surprising given that the NDP would cost an estimated K62.6 billion to implement over a period of five years with K48 billion being sourced from the Government and K11.2 billion from cooperating partners.The remaining shortfall of K2.9 billion needed to be mobilised. Its therefor important that we know whether we are on the right plan/track or not.

In that spirit, the moment I got to work, I quickly downloaded the 300+ pages of the document. Being a naturall enthusiast for infrastructure and health issues, I quickly found myself studying and reading the relevant chapters. To my horror and disbelief, the document turned to be one of the worst pieces of writing I have ever come across by a Government.

So what really is so horrible about the 5th National Development Plan, I hear you ask: Well, it is a simple word : VISION. The 5th NDP is meant to be a well articulated vision of what Government is trying to do - unfortunately the latest NDP is anything but that. Infact, I dont think the NDP can even be called an NDP. It simply isn't the document that inspires. It does not articulate a coherent vision of has a statement about what Government wants to see happen but there's no coherence within the document...for example, it does not set out how what Government is doing on transport links to the fight on Aids...and how that links to education and how then that links to local authorities..and then back to what Government wants to see....that is just one example...

To me a vision is well integrated. The 5th NDP isn't. No coherence whatsover.And the saddest thing is that with so many plethora of documents that Government's put out during the year, this should the most significant for a while. Unfortunately what we have, is a very weak document. For example on Aids, I was looking to hear how Government plan to balance the needs of ARV dependent patients and the need for prevention. There's nothing in there.

On Infrastructure...I was looking to see what plans Government has for a future transport system, there's nothing in there....Government just does not realise how crucial transport should have a new Ministry focused on that.....not as part of Works & Supply...I wonder if there's anyone credible advising the President on these issues? This NDP is making Zambians look bad to the IMF and World Bank...because they read these documents and we all look uneducated, no wonder they treat as like we can't think through things...WE ARE FAILING TO WRITE A PROPER 5th NDP....a simple document...

There's nothing in this document, just numbers and useless figures.A summer student could have written it. We need a well thought and articulated vision of Zambia....Where all policy areas are connected. This is what a NDP was intended to do... I am sad to report, that in my view it has failed horribly!

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