K30m ‘youth fund’ is either a political gimmick or mere bribe – Prof Kasonso.

PROFESSOR Jones Kasonso says the K30 million President Edgar Lungu promised the youth last week is “a mere cash bribe to silence them due to recent widespread disenchantment”.

The US-based advanced accounting professor challenged President Lungu to explain the genuineness of such empowerment.

“A few important questions that our President didn’t answer for us are: how many young people did the government intend to empower? What sort of empowerment was this? Is it short term or long term? Where do these young people live? In Lusaka or other parts of Zambia? In what industry is this long-awaited financial investment going to apply? How much will each youth get from government and what are the expected outcomes from this support?” he asked. “Not providing answers to these questions left an observer and researcher like me to speculate that this might either be a political gimmick to win the hearts of the youth pre-election or a mere cash bribe to silence them due to recent widespread disenchantment…When the people hired a president, they did not hire the chief inspector of Chinese construction projects. They hired a president to help with the needs and aspirations of the nation.”

He proposed a long-term strategy for youth empowerment.

Prof Kasonso outlined various sectors of the economy where such money be invested for the benefit of the youth.

“We are proposing that proper governance requires that you at least lay out a 10-year strategy, that says in the next 10 years this is what we are going to do. We are going to put this kind of money into the education system so that our children can go up to the first two years of college for free through grants. That way you have covered the youth who are going to school,” Prof Kasonso said. “Then we are going to invest this amount of money in small-scale industries so they can have jobs. That way you cover for school/college graduates and those young adults who need a job. For example, we as Zambia have done this before.”

Prof Kasonso cited the various industries in the Kenneth Kaunda era that helped empower youths in all the provinces.

He said instead of focusing on artistes alone, the government should have a broad-based youth empowerment programme.

“Right now you can pass a law, for example, everyone who owns a business that earns X amount of money in revenue that falls in the category of SME as a privilege of citizens. What government must practice is: “a no Zambian left behind public policy’ where every citizen has a stake in the wealth of the country. We need to have a situation where the people have a stake in their own country so no Zambian is left behind,” said Prof Kasonso. “Instead of exclusive focus on the singer community, we can start with a ‘no youth left behind programme’. Youth programmes are educational in nature, they are industrial in nature. Youth programmes are not all about a song. Some youths just need a job. You cannot put all the money into the singer community and say, ‘oh we have $1.6m for youth empowerment’. And what are they going to do with the money since there are no concerts to stage? Is money for upkeep or investment? Youth empowerment done this way is rewarding loyal supporters with chunk change to go buy products in RSA then come to sell them in a shop at the mall.”