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Monday, 4 May 2009

JCTR Press Release : Zambia Labour Day

Press Release by JCTR :

As Zambia Commemorates  Labour Day, JCTR asks : "Are Zambia's development aspirations and current needs aligned to type of labour being trained"?

01 May 2009 - Zambia is faced with a double burden of high rates of unemployment and underemployment. This situation is a reflection of both inadequate employment opportunities and a mismatch between the type of labour being trained and the development needs of the country. 

The Central Statistical Office (CSO) Preliminary Living Conditions Monitoring Survey Report 2006, shows that nationally less people were employed in 2006 compared to 2004 -- 43 percent and 54 percent respectively. It is obvious that with the current economic situation obtaining both locally and internationally, the rates of unemployment have further increased. The implications of this scenario need not be overemphasised. Most households are faced with the situation of being unable to meet basic necessities required for decent human survival such as adequate nutritional intake, health, education, housing, etc. 

As has already been established and emphatically expressed, building a country’s production base is the principle route out of poverty and hunger. “But there are elements to that equation that require paying attention to,” says Miniva Chibuye who Coordinates the Social Conditions Programme of the JCTR, “For example, it is important to align training at various levels with the expressed vision of a country’s national development.” Ms Chibuye further asks whether what we are experiencing by way of training provided by various institutions in Zambia is linked to Zambia’s Development Plan or Vision 2030. 

As Zambians commemorate Labour Day, all stakeholders should bring to the fore the soaring rates of unemployment as well as the unbearably high cost of living. The JCTR through its monthly Basic Needs Basket -- measuring cost of living for a family of six in Lusaka, Kabwe, Ndola, Luanshya, Kitwe, Livingstone, Mongu and Kasama --- has evidently demonstrated this undesirable fact of high cost of living in our society and incessantly called for responses to address the situation. 

For the month of April, the JCTR Basic Needs Basket for Lusaka has yet again revealed an increase in the cost of food items. The cost of basic food items for a family of six increased by K21,700 to costing K788,200 from K766,500 recorded in March. The major contributor to the rise in cost was mealie meal and kapenta. A 25kg bag of breakfast mealie meal increased on average from K64,000 to K67,300 while a kg of Kapenta increased by K2,400 from K43,100 in March to currently K45,500.

However, the cost of essential non food items -- housing, water, energy, wash and bath soap, etc -- recorded a nominal reduction of K16,400 from a total of K1,447,430 in March to K1,431,030 in April. This reduction was coming from charcoal because of the ease of producing and transporting charcoal that come with the dry season. The total cost of the Basic Needs Basket has however increased from K2,213,930 in March to K2,219,230 recorded in April. 

Since employment is cardinal to enabling household access to basic needs, it is imperative that government as a duty bearer stimulates real investment and creates opportunities for productive employment. In that light, JCTR welcomes the step that the Ministry of Labour has taken to consider revising the minimum wage, which in essence should take into consideration the cost of living and the “condition of business”. 

Moreover, JCTR believes that to address unemployment and underemployment, there is need to look at an array of things. These include strategic matching of training or skills development and the country’s present and future needs as outlined in the Development Plan and Vision 2030. 

[For more information, contact the Social Conditions Programme of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, P. O. Box 37774, Lusaka, Zambia; tel: 260-211-290410; fax: 260-211-290759; e-mail:; internet:]


  1. A similar situation occurring in India:

  2. I am wondering whether the JCTR Food Basket actually sends the wrong message. The urban dweller has stifled agriculture policy. The reason we have had maize subsidies in the past is purely to keep urban dwellers quiet. As much as I would love to see greater urbanisation and larger and larger cities (due to agglomeration effects), people need to bear the costs of living in towns, and that includes paying higher prices for food!


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