The Alliance of Good Governance says there was lack of consultation between the PF government and the opposition political parties on key national issues.
The alliance which is comprised of a consortium of 7 civil society organisations observed that good governance was not only a tenet of democracy but a critical pre-requisite to national development.
However, the consortium observed with great concern the situations and events in Zambia that threaten public peace, unity and collective participation in governance and social economical activities.
The alliance said this yesterday during a breakfast meeting for the media.
- Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
- Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ)
- Zambia Federation for the Disabled (ZAFOD)
- Operation Young Vote (OYV)
- Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP)
- Press Association of Zambia (PAZA)
Fellow countrymen and women, Fellow members of the Alliance for Good Governance (AGG), Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), Zambia Federation for the Disabled (ZAFOD), Operation Young Vote (OYV), 2410 and Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), Press Association of Zambia (PAZA), representatives from the press and the media houses, ladies and gentlemen.
The Alliance for Good Governance is a consortium of seven (7) civil society organizations dedicated to the promotion and strengthening of good governance in Zambia. The Alliance believes that good governance is not only a tenet of democracy but also a critical pre-requisite to National Development. It is in the light of the above that AGG makes this statement on good governance in our Nation, Zambia. We as the Alliance for Good Governance meet here today in line with our mission of contributing towards the promotion of good governance in our nation in order to ensure justice for all, rule of law that is respected by all and the effective participation of every Zambian in the governance of our nation.
We state our categorical positions on various issues relating to the state of the nation and we appeal to the government and the general public to work towards strengthening unity and peace in the context of a political, religious, cultural and ethnic diversity. Zambia has survived all these years since 1964 as a united and peaceful nation and this very special gift of God should not be lost. The great foundations of the unity of our country should always remain the bedrock of each and every successive government so that the people of this great nation can continue their journey of peaceful holistic development and political tolerance.
We have observed with great concern the situations and events in our country that threaten public peace, unity and collective participation in governance and socio-economic activities by our people. We call upon the PF government and the Zambian people to remain resolute and calm and refrain from any outrageous activities that will compromise or threaten the peace of our nation. We should conquer evil with good, and hate with love.
- Interparty political conflicts
We observe with regret the continued lack of consultation between the PF government and the opposition political parties on key national issues. This does not help to foster a positive relationship in a multi-party democratic system where political diversity is an essential element for checks and balances. We urge the co-existence and regular consultation through meaningful dialogue among all the political parties in the country regardless of their sizes and parliamentary representation. We urge the PF government to take the initiative and call the opposition political parties for dialogue that should help bring about reconciliation and resolve the contentious issues affecting the general public and the governance of our country. We have also observed with regret that political parties do not use the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) effectively to resolve their differences. Therefore, we wish to urge all political party leaders and their supporters to avoid conflicts and violence and instead resolve their differences through dialogue.
The opposition political parties should always play their critical role of holding the government accountable for their actions, the pursuit of the development agenda and social service delivery to our people through a just system and a national vision. Therefore, the government should not perceive or regard the opposition political parties as enemies that should be annihilated but rather as allies for development. The opposition too, should exercise wisdom in sharing and commenting on policy issues to ensure that we place the common good of our nation ahead of self. The government should be a service and its leaders should be servants. This will strengthen the understanding that the power of leadership does not rest with the leaders but with the people. Leadership is not on top – suppressing people but at the bottom – lifting people.
The continuous use of violence and hate speech is regrettable, unacceptable and retrogressive. We urge all the politicians to exercise restraint from the use of foul language so that they can edify the general public. The media and the press should desist from amplifying such unacceptable utterances and not feed the public with insults exchanged between persons. We urge the editors of all the media houses to exercise caution in ensuring that they publish their news only in acceptable tone and language. We need a new style of reporting that will enhance unity and the positive development of our country.
- Crop marketing
The earlier position of government to only buy a maximum of 153 bags of maize from each farmer was unacceptable as this would have negatively impacted on the morale and the business plans of our farmers countrywide who would have wanted to sell more than 153 bags. We applaud the recent statement made by the Honorable Minister of Agriculture that the government has reversed its earlier plans and that they will now buy all the maize from farmers.
The government should have been aware that the low price offered for cotton had already adversely affected the amount of money the farmers would earn for their labors in this marketing season. Therefore, buying all the maize from the farmers will mitigate the impact from the loss of income from cotton sales. In addition, government should plan ahead regarding crop marketing in the country as late interventions in the past have not yielded favorable results but tended to breed vices such as corruption and making farmers to be susceptible to exploitation by brief case buyers.
We urge the government and the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to be vigilant and curb corruption in the marketing system that is often associated with paying for invisible maize, incorrect accounting, corrupt and inefficient transportation system, poor storage, lack of transparency and lack of integrity of staff at various levels in the marketing system.
- Constitution making process
We lament the lack of critical direction and road map in the constitution making process as the committee has failed to produce the draft constitution within the much publicized 90 day window. The delay in putting up a legal framework grossly affects the legitimacy of the Technical Committee Drafting the Republican Constitution and also affects the acceptability of the final product. We reiterate and support calls made by several stakeholders that the referendum commission should be formed soon and the referendum Act should be amended in order to remove the unfavorable clauses.
- The Corruption fight
We question whether there is a ‘fight’ at all in the corruption fight. There is rhetoric but no real results to show what the resources used in the so called fight are achieving. Failure in identifying, arresting and prosecuting the corrupt persons associated with corruption renders the talk about corruption fight as a mere political rhetoric and a public relations utterance. We say so, because, of late, we have observed that people with questionable character or record in the public and political sphere have been appointed to influential positions by a government that claims allergy to corruption. The depth and sophistication of corruption in this country is alarming and has reached levels of a national disaster. Zambians must decide now by playing a part in dealing with this scourge by not paying a bribe and not receiving one. We must cleanse the society through a moral transformation that will restore integrity in our citizenry. Corruption if tolerated has adverse capacity to reverse any likely gains in our little development efforts by pushing us back several decades behind and drowning our innocent Zambians wallowing in chronic poverty.
- The Appointment of ministers from the opposition political parties
We wish to point out that the appointment of ministers from the opposition is constitutional. However, we feel that this is not done in good faith but it is meant to disempower the opposition. This is so because the identification and appointment of such persons from the opposition does not involve consultation with the Heads of the affected political parties. This tends to undermine the opposition leadership. We call for consultations between government and the concerned political parties when appointing ministers from the opposition MPs.
- The killing of the Chinese national at Collum Coal Mine
We regret the recent incident at Collum Coal Mine that resulted in the killing of a Chinese national following a wage dispute between the management and the workers. The incident was a very unfortunate situation. “We should never allow a situation where workers or anyone takes the law in their own hands. However, we are confident that the police will carry out thorough investigations on the Collum incident to ensure culprits are brought to book.
We urge employers and employees in the country to embrace and pursue dialogue in resolving their differences. The unfortunate incident should be a lesson to the country to ensure that there is regular consultation before making key decisions. The minimum wage is an important matter in a country like Zambia where poverty levels are very high and there is a need to scale up salaries in line with the growth in the economy.
We need to take lessons from what happened at Collum coal mine and do things right. Therefore while demanding for better services, let’s not create a hostile environment for the would be good investors. Nonetheless, we strongly urge investors to reward their employees fairly and accordingly with special regard to the law of the land.
- The Road carnage and gruesome killings
We further observe with grave concern, the increasing number of road traffic accidents in the country. This has a ripple effect on the health service system and economy of our country. It leads to an increase in the number of persons with disabilities as many people have been injured, maimed and amputated. In addition, many children have been orphaned as a result of these road traffic accidents leaving untold miseries to surviving families. Because of this, we call on government to put in place favorable measures and policies aimed at improving the safety of the road users and the travelling public. Also the government should make special provisions to improve the support for the people with disabilities in the country as their population is also on the increase due to road carnage.
In the same vein, the increase in gender based violence in the country is alarming and the pace at which the police are moving to bring to book the culprits should be enhanced. We want to see the police applying the same vigor which they use when arresting political figures to the fight against perpetrators of gruesome killings. We urge church to commit the country into prayers and ask God’s divine intervention and restore safety and protection of our Zambian people. We also urge RTSA to stem up efforts of sensitizing the general public on the need to adhere to road regulations.
- The Judicial Tribunal – The Malawian Judge
We request the government to update the general public on the status of the Malawian Judge, Justice Chikopa who was hired to lead the tribunal on the judiciary. We also want to know how much government is spending for his upkeep while in Zambia. The Alliance wants the government to explain the relevance of Justice Chikopa’s continued stay in the country at Zambian tax payers money. The government should exercise caution and be prudent in the utilization of public resources because it is being wasteful and extravagant by keeping a judge who has not officially started working on his assignment. We therefore, reiterate our earlier call that if Justice Chikopa, is still in Zambia, then it is only morally right that he returns to his home country as he awaits the court outcome on the matter.
- By elections
We observed that By-elections are a costly exercise and a major drain to the limited public resources in our country. In this regard, we appeal to our elected parliamentarians to save the country’s valuable resources by sticking to their political parties. The shifting from the opposition to the ruling party is unacceptable luxury. Zambia requires an effective opposition front to provide checks and balance and hold the government accountable. Therefore, we appeal to the MMD which has threatened to expel its members of parliament who have accepted ministerial positions in the PF government to reconsider its position in the interest of the nation and help exercise concern at saving our meager resource from being diverted to holding bye-elections.
- Minimum Wage and Youth unemployment
We note with great concern conspicuous lack of consultation on this matter by the government. We believe that the government should have engaged major stakeholders such as the labor Movement, Employers and economists regarding the introduction and implementation of the minimum wage. This would have reduced the acrimony that has characterized the implementation of this important instrument. As a result of a one-party-show, we witnessed unfortunate incident in Collum Coal Mine where one Chinese manager was killed in cold blood.
This was uncalled for and unfortunate indeed. We want to appeal to the Zambian workers to behave responsibly when pursuing more money for their pockets. We hope this will save as a great lesson for this government in its future decision making processes that consultation is a vital asset.
In a related development the recent incident where one youth wanted to kill himself as a martyr for the unemployed youth in the country makes sad reading and calls for an urgent need for the government to prioritize youth employment. We further urge government to inform the public how far they have gone with the development of an action plan for the creation of youth employment in the country. We need to see a quick action creating youth employment in the country.
We wish to emphasize our commitment to constitutionalism and good governance in Zambia. Service to humanity and the need for a just society is what motivates us. We will continue to stand side-by-side with the downtrodden and be a voice for the voiceless. To this end, we commit our country in the able hands of the Almighty God.
May God bless our Great Nation.