Elections in their true nature keep a democratic country functioning, as they give the people the right to select their own government. Choosing the right leadership is integral to the success and growth of any given country. With the 6th Ethiopian general elections fast approaching, Capital has organized a series of interviews with aspiring political parties, with topics that encompass their incoming policy plans with regards to important matters that are required for the progress of Ethiopia.
To this end, Capital drew links with Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (ETHZEMA), through their National Policy formulation coordinator, Amanyehun Redda. The following were the party’s subsequent plans with respect to the key stone areas that require dire attention for a better Ethiopia. Excerpts;
Capital: What kind of policy plan does ETHZEMA have towards developing education in Ethiopia?
Amanyehun: Each and every citizen must find food shelter and health services easily and fulfilling basic needs of citizens. Finding food shelter health service should not be a luxury. With regards to our party policy plan, we give special attention to education. If a country has no quality education at all the system in the country will automatically fail. Quality education is also integral to social justice. On our end we will work to increase education and schools in both urban and rural areas and facilitate education for all. Quality education should not only be for the wealthy society but world class education must be accessible by all.
Wealthy people of course can easily invest in education (private education) meanwhile as government must try to facilitate for quality education for the poor or less fortunate society. A good example is that of Rwanda where its public schools are known to provide quality education which makes them preferable than the private schools.
Apart from building quality education, we will also work on making the teaching profession the most respectable in the industry whilst also developing the ability and capability of teachers. Teachers’ salary will be looked into and up scaled in order to meet living standards whilst also encouraging them to stay in their profession. We say this because in recent assessments it has been noted that 80 percent of the teachers were unhappy with their profession, and as ETHZEMA we want to change that narrative.
With regards to higher education institutions, it is clear that such arenas are being used as political recruitment arenas as opposed to being a source of knowledge and skill for citizens. We plan to advance the academic sector with excellence and more so without any political interference whatsoever. We plan to support education systems with facilities and technology required to enable students to become highly employable with good incomes. Moreover, as ETHZEMA we plan to increase job creation by promoting entrepreneurship facilitating loans and tax incentive, and so on.
All in all, our agenda with regards to education is to build an education system which is combined with indigenous knowledge in order to build a world class education for all.
Capital: How does ETHZEMA planning to tackle job creation?
Amanyehun: ETHZEMA has 5 economic policies with the first agenda being fulfilling the basic needs of citizens including food, housing and basic necessities required for safe living. The second is job creation, equal income distribution and provision of a decent life for every citizen.
When you looked into the making of job creation, you should look into the sector that makes the country to thrive. As a party we are focused on the manufacturing and agriculture sector since it is the biggest avenue for employment. Giving attention to such areas directly provides job opportunities for the youth.
Furthermore, service sectors such as tourism provide huge areas for employment, however peace and stability is crucial for tourism. To this end, we are committed in building peace within the country in order to provide a playground where tourism thrives both for the country’s economy and job creation for the youth.
The other worry on employment is that employers every now and then criticize the lack of professionals and professionalism with regards to completing required tasks. We plan to resolve this by providing a solid foundational base by providing quality and action base education and training for our citizens. This will both help to create new job opportunities and advance our employees who are a backbone of the economy. With regards to harnessing a skill set, students when we are elected to office will have national duties within their respective lines of education so as to equip them with the require with the real life experience in conjunction to the academic background.
With regards to creating professionals man power, we will build business incubation centers. For those who have scalable and competitive business ideas, the government will give them support to change their ideas to reality. Investors will inject capital; all commercial banks will have an investment arm to support entrepreneurs. When we become government we will set up an entrepreneur’s wing of government which is a Startup fund for youths which will be established in support of international organizations.
Capital: What kind of policy framework do you have in store to support and improve the agriculture sector?
Amanyehun: As ETHZEMA, we acknowledge that the number of population is growing over time and it is most important to us to full fill the basic needs of citizens which have direct links with the agriculture sector. A look into the agriculture sector shows that the sector to a significant degree is led by professionals in which according to our assessment lack fundamental knowledge on the sector. Therefore, as part of policy we will seek to revamp the sector with the require professionalism and direction with regards to leadership.
We also recognize the sectors contribution to the national GDP, thus we have frameworks in place that will make us as a country to be food sovereign and secure whilst striving to create jobs within the sector. Create more space for employment.
Based on our plan, within 3 years we plan to be nationally food independent and within 5 years to be independent on family base level by increasing house hold income for citizens.
By supporting and increasing the national fund on the sector we will increase its contribution on export and job creation stabilization to the market system,
Currently, 5 percent of the national budget goes to the agricultural sector which provides 36 percent contribution to the total GDP and 70 percent to export sector and which also accounts to 80 percent of employment of the country. We plan to improve on the allocation percentages and we will plan out mandatory policies that will make banks to support the sector. Moreover, insurance for farmers will be a top priority for us and we plan to ease the taxing system of the sector.
Capital: What kind of policy does ETHZEMA have regarding decreasing inflation and building sustainable living standards?
Amanyehun: When we talk about inflation we have to ask what the base is. Annually the total number of the population increases by 2.95 million people, which increases demand of food, shelter and other basic needs. Thus in retrospect this will result to the increase in number of consumers, so in a place where supply is not growing inflation will be created.
Thus we can note that the number of population should be move in equivalent proportions to that of the economy. To this end it is clear that inflation could be tackled by improving the economy. In the cycle of improving the economy we will make it our crucial priority to create more job opportunities and empower businesses.
Similarly, we plan to increase supply and productivity of both the agriculture and the manufacturing sector and facilitate modern and accessible market linkage since lack of modern market linkage is one of the challenges in the inflation threshold. Therefore, various measures will be put in place to connect both the producers and the consumer directly.
Capital: How will ETHZEMA tackle the foreign currency crunch that has proven to be a challenge for the country?
Amanyehun: Regarding the foreign currency crunch, which also plays a part in inflation; we plan to stabilize the crunch by having more exports than imports. We have strategies in place that will allow us to be an import dependent economy, by increasing productivity, as we seek to improve inflation as highlighted above.
Currently, the economic policy being taken by the government with respect to taking loans and support from the international actors is killing the ability of birr, we will not kneel for this, we will decrease amount of imports.
The other thing we will do is increase the diaspora saving as one means of increasing forex. Ethiopia is the second country in Africa in terms having large number of Diasporas, following Nigeria, whilst Egypt is the third place. However, Ethiopia gets only 7 billion from remittance, and Egypt gets 28 billion dollar in remittance annually. This is a result of antipathy between the government and the diaspora, so ETHZEMA will build a democratic and accepted government which will be p[lay an integral role in the foreign currency crunch.
We will also be keen in promoting other avenues that generate forex such as tourism. To this end, we will ensure that our country remains peaceful as we continue to promote or great touristic sites within the country to the world.
Capital: What is the general economic policy of ETHZEMA?
Amanyehun: Our economic policy covers five main thematic areas that aim to improve our country. The first is fulfilling basic needs of citizens, and improving basic supplies and necessities. The second one is job creation and we envision creating space for all that is ripe to the working world. The third one is creating sustainable and modern market systems, free for competition and free from burden of inflation. The fourth one is improving the export sector, and the last one is promoting the private sectors.