Strategies in Zambia’s State of Nation Address “step in right direction”: Jesuit Scholars

JCTR Executive Director, Fr. Alex Muyebe. Credit: JCTR

Strategies in Zambian President’s State of the Nation Address that touched on, among other issues, the fostering of constitution reforms and tackling climate change, are a “step in the right direction,” officials of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) have said. 

In his Friday, March 11 State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Hakainde Hichilema said his administration is committed to tackling climate change and corruption. 

The Zambian President further said his government will work towards ending child marriages and teenage pregnancies, reducing the abuse of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and doing away with perennial and costly by-elections.

“Generally, the commitment and strategies highlighted in the SONA to enhance national development are a step in the right direction,” officials of the Zambia-based research institution say in their Tuesday, March 15 statement. 

They add that President Hichilema’s address “sets a baseline on which various stakeholders will further monitor and evaluate the government's mandate to cultivate and uphold the nation's values and principles.” 


The Jesuit scholars say, “The President in his SONA address remarked on some salient issues pertaining to the impact of climate change.”

“Afforestation is highlighted as a key measure being undertaken by the administration. This is extremely important because besides providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and mitigate climate change,” they say.

JCTR officials, however, say that charcoal production, which is responsible for the destruction of trees, “is a significant forest-related livelihood and a highly demanded source of energy even for urban households.”

For this reason, they say deforestation bears two faces. 

“On one hand, a need to adopt alternative technologies and fuels currently being hindered by poor enabling conditions, inefficiencies in key value chains, laxity of political regimes and cultural barriers,” they say.

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On the other hand, JCTR officials say, “inequality in the form of poverty and vulnerability is at risk of remaining high for as long as there are no alternative livelihoods for former charcoal-producing households.”

Officials of the research institute go on to say that they are delighted that the government, through the decentralization agenda, is committed to turning around the economy to accelerate socio-economic transformation and uplift the livelihoods of the citizens.

“Such policies have opened hope for long-envisioned desire to attain social justice and ensure fullness of life for all. It goes without mention that reversing the current economic trajectory will not happen instantly,” the Jesuit scholars in Zambia say. 

They add, “In this vain, the speech did not elucidate more on solutions to tackle undesirable prevailing scenarios of suicides, mental health instability, gender based violence that are paramount to promoting human dignity and social justice beyond the scope of economic transformation.” 

In their March 15 statement, the Jesuit scholars urge the government to “develop a strategic plan to harmonize human activity and environmental protection with a focus on alternative livelihoods.”


“It remains key that all actors unite to find reasonable solutions to the problem of deforestation and climate change,” JCTR officials say. 

They add, “Government must devise mechanisms to combat the incessant social ills of the high cost of living, unemployment among youths and strategically plan for empowerment funds without due politicization and discrimination.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.