Zambia like many other African countries is making concerted efforts to respond to the poverty challenges. The country is currently drawing its Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) which is expected to commence in 2006 and conclude in 2011.It is in view of the foregoing that governance has been identified as a key component to poverty reduction in the National Development Plan. The plan should therefore provide a framework for strengthening governance, promoting human rights and engaging civil society and other stakeholders to participate and take decisions in the resource allocation process and poverty delivery systems. This entails that the institutions that support governance need to be reformed and strengthened.
The Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) in the governance sector must aim at the following in the short and long-term:
The goal is to integrate governance in national planning through carefully formulated targets in the National Development Plan, as well as setting measurable indicators in the short- term. This is because if there are no monitoring mechanisms, bad governance will creep in and hurt the poor by systematically undermining the efforts to reduce poverty in the country.
Enable the poor to effectively participate in decision making and resource allocation;
Improve the capacity of the poor by improving basic services;
Provide economic opportunities for the poor by increasing access to markets; and
Provide security from economic shocks and from corruption, crime, and violence.
From the governance perspective, poverty not only means little or lack of access to incomes through employment, but also exclusion from participation in institutions and processes that govern one's life, leading to voicelessness and powerlessness in these processes and institutions. Poverty also manifests itself in low educational opportunities, inadequate access to resources, and lack of freedom to exercise choice and participate fully in national development. Without good governance, available scarce resources are generally not put to good use in combating poverty due to lack of transparency, rampant corruption and an uncertain legal system that hinders economic growth.
In Zambia the most critical derogations to the Zambian people's assertions of democratic governance is not wholly a question of fiscal resources but lack of political will and fraudulent perpetuation of political hegemony. It is therefore important that certain critical areas of good governance are taken into consideration. These concerns can find a place in the current political and legal reforms being undertaken by way of the constitutional review process and the electoral reforms.
This document proposes some policy and action programmes for inclusion under the theme of governance and poverty reduction. The priority areas include the Constitution, the Electoral regime, Media laws, Parliamentary Reforms and Decentralisation of the local government system. In the long run, if these areas are taken into account, good governance will culminate into uplifting the standard of living for the people and thereby ameliorate poverty.