​SPEECH BY ZUFIAW PRESIDENT MR. ACKIM MWEEMBA 

SPEECH BY ZUFIAW PRESIDENT MR. ACKIM MWEEMBA AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 12TH ZUFIAW QUADRENNIAL CONFERENCE AT FAIRMOUNT HOTEL, LIVINSTONE ON DECEMBER 21, 2017
THE GUEST OF HONOUR, HONOURABLE  MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL SECURITY, MRS JOYCE NONDE-SIMUKOKO, MP

THE LABOUR COMMISSIONER, MR. CHANDA KAZIYA 

THE FEDERATION OF TREE TRADE UNIONS OF ZAMBIA PRESIDENT, WHO IS ALSO OUR GENERAL SECRETARY, MR. CHINGATI MSISKA

THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF FREE TRADE UNIONS OF ZAMBIA, MR. LYSON MANDO

INVITED INTERNATIONAL GUESTS PRESENT

THE INVITED GUESTS FROM NATIONAL UNIONS PRESENT

THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL

INVITED GUESTS FROM PARTNER INSTITUTIONS PRESENT

FELLOW DELEGATES

MEMBERS OF THE PRESS

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

HONOURABLE MINISTER, I STAND HERE AS A PERSON FULL OF OPTIMISM ABOUT THE FUTURE OF ZUFIAW. LOOKING AT WHERE WE ARE COMING FROM; WHERE WE STAND CURRENTLY; AND WHERE WE ARE GOING, I CAN ATTEST THAT A LOT OF PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE AND THE UNION IS SETTING NEW TRENDS IN THE TRADE UNION FRATERNITY IN THIS COUNTRY. ZUFIAW TODAY IS MORE INCLUSIVE AND MORE DEMOCRATIC, THANKS TO THE COLLECTIVE EFFORT FROM EVERY MEMBER OF THE UNION FOR PLAYING THEIR PART IN MAKING THIS HAPPEN. 

HONOURABLE MINISTER, BEFORE I DELVE FURTHER INTO MY SPEECH, I WOULD LIKE TO STATE THAT DURING OUR LAST QUADRENNIAL CONFERENCE IN 2013, YOU WERE HERE AS OUR GENERAL SECRETARY. FOUR YEARS LATER, YOU ARE BACK HERE BUT IN A DIFFERENT ROLE; YOU ARE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL SECURITY.

HONOURBALE MINISTER, SINCE YOUR APPOINTMENT TOOK PLACE IN BETWEEN THESE CONFERENCES, I WOULD LIKE TO REQUEST THIS AUGUST HOUSE TO BE UP-STANDING AND GIVE YOU A ROUSING APPLAUSE. 

YOUR APPOINTMENT IS A HUGE VINDICATION OF THE VITAL ROLE THAT ZUFIAW PLAYS IN THE SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL PROGRESS OF OUR GREAT NATION. ZUFIAW IS EXTREMELY PROUD OF YOU.

HONOURABLE MINISTER, THIS IS A TRIPLE QUADRENNIAL CONFERENCE IN THE SENSE THAT THERE ARE THREE DISTINCT CONFERENCES THAT HAVE BEEN HELD UNDER ONE UMBRELLA. THESE ARE: THE YOUTH CONFERENCE WHICH WAS HELD ON DECEMBER 19; THE WOMEN CONFERENCE HELD ON DECEMBER 20; AND THEN THE QUADRENNIAL CONFERENCE PROPER THAT RUNS FROM TODAY TO TOMORROW HELD UNDER THE THEME “……..”. 

BUT WHAT LARGELY BRINGS US HERE HONOURABLE MINISTER IS OUR UNION CONSTITUTION; WHICH REQUIRES US TO HOLD ELECTIONS FOR THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL, EVERY FOUR YEARS. SO IN ESSENCE, THIS IS AN ELECTIVE CONFERENCE WHERE DELEGATES ARE EXPECTED TO CHOOSE THEIR LEADERS FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS RUNNING FROM 2018 TO 2021. AND WE ARE GRATEFUL TO YOU AND ALL OUR PARTNERS THAT HAVE COME TO WITNESS AND GIVE US SUPPORT.

ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE

HONOURABLE MINISTER, ALLOW ME TO COMMENT ON THE ECONOMIC STATE OF THIS COUNTRY. ZAMBIA HAS LATELY FACED A LOT OF ECONOMIC CHALLENGES, ALTHOUGH SOME IMPROVEMENTS IN THE ENERGY AND MINING SECTORS HAVE BEEN MADE. BUT AS A TRADE UNION MOVEMENT, WE ARE CONCERNED WITH THE RUNNING PUBLIC DEBATE ON THE TRUE DEBT CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY. WHILST THE OFFICIAL DEBT POSITION, AS INDICATED BY MINISTER OF FINANCE IS SAID TO BE US$7.5 BILLION, THERE IS COMPELLING EVIDENCE ON THE OTHER HAND THAT INDICATES THAT IT IS OVER US$17 BILLION; AND THE RELUCTANCE BY THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND TO OFFER ZAMBIA A LOAN OF US$1.3 BILLION ON THE PREMISE OF CONCERNS OF THE DEBT STATUS OF THE COUNTRY IS WORRYING.

HONOURABLE MINISTER, AS WORKERS, WE HAVE EVERY REASON TO WORRY WHEN QUESTIONS OF ACCUMULATING DEBT AND GENERAL FRACTURES IN THE ECONOMIC FUNDAMENTALS OF THE COUNTRY APPEAR. WHEN THIS HAPPENS, IT IS WORKERS AND THE MAJORITY POOR THAT SUFFER THE MOST AS EVIDENCED DURING THE HIPC PROCESS AND THE ERA OF STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMME. OUR APPEAL THEREFORE IS THAT GOVERNMENT SHOULD QUICKLY COME CLEAN ON THE REAL DEBT STOCK OF THE COUNTRY.

THE POSITION OF ZUFIAW ON THE ISSUE OF DEBT IS THAT ZAMBIA SHOULD NEVER AGAIN FALL INTO A DEBT TRAP. MANY ARE TIMES WHEN WE HAVE HEARD LEADERS CLAIM THAT THE COUNTRY SHOULD BORROW SO THAT IT CAN INVEST IN CAPITAL PROJECTS WHICH ARE NEEDED TO SPUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. 

THAT ARGUMENT IMPLIES THAT BORROWING IS THE ONLY SOLUTION TO THE ECONOMIC PROBLEMS FACING THIS COUNTRY. SURELY AS ZAMBIANS, WE SHOULD REJECT THIS NOTION AS THE COUNTRY IS CAPABLE OF UTILIZING ITS VAST NATURAL RESOURCES TO MEET DEVELOPMENT NEEDS. WE URGE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE A BOLD DECISION OF BELIEVING IN OUR OWN ABILITIES TO LIFT THE COUNTRY UP. ONLY THEN SHALL THIS COUNTRY ATTAIN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. 

GOVERNANCE 

HONOURABLE MINISTER, ZUFIAW IS HAPPY THAT ZAMBIA HAS MAINTAINED ITS DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE CREDENTIALS SINCE 1991 AND THERE SHOULD BE NO GOING BACK ON THIS. THE CONSTITUTION OF THE COUNTRY HAS PROVIDED CITIZENS WITH A VAST ARRAY OF FREEDOMS AND RIGHTS.  WITH THE OPENING UP OF THE MEDIA SPACE IN THE COUNTRY, ZAMBIA NOW HAS DOZENS OF RADIO, TELEVISION AND NEWSPAPERS; THUS MAKING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION TO BE REALISED.

OUR CONCERN HOWEVER IS THE MANNER IN WHICH THE PUBLIC ORDER ACT IS BEING IMPLEMENTED BY THE POLICE. THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT THIS PIECE OF LAW HAS BEEN USED TO DENY SOME OF OUR CITIZENS FROM ENJOYING THEIR FREEDOMS OF ASSEMBLY. IF THIS COUNTRY HAS TO LIVE BY THE TENETS OF DEMOCRACY, THEN IT IS TIME THIS LAW IS COMPREHENSIVELY REVIEWED.

STATE OF ZUFIAW: WOMEN AND YOUTH

HONOURABLE MINISTER, ZUFIAW HAS DECIDED TO BE A TRENDSETTER IN GENDERING AND INCLUSIVE PARTICIPATION. THE TIMES OF UNEQUAL PARTICIPATION ARE NO LONGER PART OF THE ZUFIAW STORY TODAY. THIS CAN BE SEEN FROM THE FACT THAT THE PARTICIPATION AT THIS QUADRENNIAL CONFERENCE HAS BEEN DOUBLED BECAUSE THE AMENDED CONSTITUTION, IN ADDRESSING THE ISSUE OF INCLUSIVE PARTICIPATION, HAS ENSURED THAT MORE YOUTH AND WOMEN ARE PART OF THE CONFERENCE. 

IN ADDITION, THE UNION HAS BECOME THE FIRST-EVER IN THIS COUNTRY TO IN PRACTICAL SENSE ENSURE THAT WOMEN AND YOUTH ARE CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED THEIR POSITIONS AT ALL LEVELS OF DECISION-MAKING STRUCTURES. AGAIN, THE AMENDED CONSTITUTION HAS PROVIDED FOR TWO POSITIONS ON THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL FOR WOMEN AND YOUTH, RESPECTIVELY. THIS IS A HUGE ACHIEVEMENT ON THE PART OF THE UNION AS WE BELIEVE THAT THE TIME THE WOMEN AND YOUTH HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR TO HAVE THEIR VOICE HEARD IS NOW. AS PRESIDENT, I STAND HERE AS A VERY HAPPY MAN INDEED.

HONOURABLE MINISTER, GENDER EQUALITY IS MORE THAN A GOAL IN ITSELF. IT IS A PRECONDITION FOR MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF REDUCING POVERTY, PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND BUILDING GOOD GOVERNANCE. THIS IS THE REASON THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS REGARD GENDER AS A DEVELOPMENT AGENDA. 

WOMEN ARE A FULL CIRCLE; WITHIN THEM THEY HAVE THE POWER TO CREATE, WITHIN THEM, THEY HAVE THE POWER TO NURTURE, AND WITHIN THEM, THEY HAVE THE POWER TO TRANSFORM.

ON OUR PART AS A UNION, AND AS INDICATED EARLIER, WE ARE COMMITTED TO GENDER EQUALITY AND OUR RESOLVE IS NOT ONLY NON-NEGOTIABLE BUT ALSO IRREVERSIBLE. WE SHOULD, AS A COUNTRY REALISE THAT 51 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION IS OF FEMALE GENDER, IT IS THEREFORE IRRATIONAL TO THINK OF DEVELOPMENT IF THE BIGGEST SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION IS NEGLECTED. GENDER EQUALITY IS NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT.

HONOURABLE MINISTER, IN THE SAME VEIN, TODAY’S GENERATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE IS THE LARGEST THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN. BUT THE YOUTH ARE FACING A LOT OF CHALLENGES WHICH INCLUDE UNEMPLOYMENT, POVERTY, AND INEQUALITY. 

ZUFIAW AND ITS LEADERSHIP HAS REALISED THAT WHAT THE YOUTH ARE LOOKING FOR ARE NOT FAVOURS BUT OPPORTUNITIES TO SUCCEED. IN THIS REGARD, ZUFIAW HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTING YOUTH EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMMES THAT ARE PREPARING THE YOUTH FOR LEADERSHIP. IT IS ALSO BASED ON THIS THAT THE YOUTH HAVE TWO POSITIONS ON THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL. 

GOING FORWARD THEREFORE, HONOURABLE MINISTER, WE ARE PLANNING TO CONTINUE ON BUILDING THE CAPACITY OF THE WOMEN AND YOUTH IN OUR UNION. PLANS ARE UNDERWAY TO DEVELOP MENTORSHIP PROGRAMMES WHERE WE INTEND TO EXPOSE THEM BOTH LOCALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY. FURTHER, THE UNION IS SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING PROVIDING MORE FUNDS TO WOMEN AND YOUTH ACTIVITIES. IN FACT, I AM HAPPY TO STATE THAT WE HAVE ALREADY STARTED DOING SO AS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, WOMEN AND YOUTH ARE ENTITLED TO ANNUAL BUDGETARY ALLOCATION. WE BELIEVE WITH INCREASED FUNDING, OUR WOMEN AND YOUTH SHALL EXCEL EXCEEDINGLY.

IN ADDITION, THE UNION IS IN THE PROCESS OF IDENTIFYING ORGANISATIONS AND GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS TO ALLOW OUR WOMEN AND YOUTH HAVE MORE EXPOSURE AND NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES.

IN CONCLUSION, I WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU HONOURABLE MINISTER FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT TO ZUFIAW. YOU HAVE REMAINED A TRUE PATRIOT AND WE SHALL ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL. I WOULD ALSO WANT TO THANK FELLOW DELEGATES FOR THE MATURE MANNER IN WHICH WE HAVE CONDUCTED BUSINESS HERE. 

VIVA ZUFIAW!

THANK YOU,
ACKIM MWEEMBA

PRESIDENT 

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