Democracy under threat

Zambia is slowly creeping into dictatorship following the Patriotic Front (PF) government’s continued interference in media operations and counter involvement in opposition party activities.

Zambian Voice executive director Chilufya Tayali said government should not turn a blind eye to those issues being discussed in the public domain if this hard earned democracy is to survive in the country.

“Since the PF came into power we have seen more confrontation than dialogue -which is at the centre of Democracy. We have had the Country being divided on tribal lines,” Mr Tayali explained.

He cited intimidation of the media by senior government officials as one of the retrogressive events pushing democracy out Zambia.

“UNZA Radio has been warned by people who not long ago were in courts and everywhere fighting for Media Freedom, but they are now worse than those they fought,” Mr Tayali said.

“We have media people who have participated to improve our democracy through Freedom of Expression but since they entered into an alliance with the PF, they have become worse than those they fought,” he explained.

He has accused government of being behind the many electoral petitions and by-elections which he said have all been “engineered by the Executive which is full of cadres from one side of the Country.”

He has accused the PF government of promoting tribalism saying ““Chiluba rarely entered into confrontation with people that called him names because he wanted to be a democrat, and Levy Mwanawasa came in and tried to emphasize the principle of Rule of Law. Rupiah Banda was trying to embrace everyone like a uniting father, but the issue of tribalism and family tree was not as pronounced then as it is now.”

He said the country was now being divided on tribal lines, which was contrary to the tenets of democracy.

“Democracy is a universally recognised ideal as well as a goal which is based on common values shared by peoples throughout the world community irrespective of cultural, political, social and economic differences,” he said.

He has accused the president of having no connection with his people other than directives issued through his ministers.

“Our President has covered himself in the warmth of State House without interacting with his people like we knew him in opposition. He does not have rallies, Press Conferences, or even hold interviews on Radio or TV,” Mr Tayali said.

Mr Tayali has called on the Zambian people who are also very enlightened on issues of Democracy to hold on to the positive strides attained so far, adding that “unfortunately the PF governance seems to be taking us backwards rather than forward.”

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