We entirely agree with Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda who has questioned the wisdom and propriety of by-elections being induced by the Patriotic Front Government.
It is not true, as he states that these are for the benefit of creating an inclusive Government.
An inclusive Government would entail the PF shedding and therefore sharing some of its power with the opposition in the same manner that coalitions Governments operate. In the UK the Labour party shares power with the Conservative party.
This has meant the appointment of Conservatives as cabinet ministers, a position in which policy is formulated for implementation by the civil service.
This is not the case in Zambia where none of the opposition member has been appointed into cabinet. Thus far all opposition are deputy ministers, positions which have absolutely no power influence nor functional responsibility. They depend on the generosity and good nature of the substantive cabinet minister who will assign them functions from time to time.
The sting in the appointment lies in Section 9 of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct which binds any minister however, junior and meaningless the portfolio to the principle of collective responsibility of ministers, which states that person holding ministerial office shall not do any thing that is inconsistent with the principle of collective responsibility of ministers for the policy of the government and the conduct of its affairs and shall not particularly, “publicly contradict or disassociate himself from any policy adopted by cabinet; shall not issue public statements criticizing another person holding ministerial office and shall not make any unauthorized disclosures of cabinet discussions, decisions or documents”
Effectively this means that an opposition deputy minister has absolutely no opportunity to influence government decision making because they do not attend cabinet and have absolutely no forum to debate or contribute meaningfully in the interest of refusing their parties programmes or thinking.
In essence crossing the floor has two specific benefits firstly for the ruling party which secures additional voting power in parliament and for the Member of Parliament himself who joins the gravy train in accessing public resources for virtually doing nothing, unless of course they are supervised by a generous and caring public minister.
That is why we entirely agree with General Miyanda and we will go a little bit further to say that such actions are corruption per se and theft of public resources from the needy people that are invariably forced or coerced into voting through party influence.
We do not believer that the billions used for elections are spent on a good and reasonable cause. As it stands social service delivery by government is absolutely pathetic.
A typical example obtains within the capital city in Lusaka where clinics are in shambles without proper staff and indeed without adequate medication. Patients start queuing as early as 05.00 hours in the morning to try and catch clinical officers who normally service shifts that should be attended to by qualified doctors.
The situation is even worse when it comes to delivery of water and sanitation to the unplanned areas of the city where people use plastics to relieve themselves and drink water contaminated with human waste. These things are happening here in Lusaka where the ruling party promised to improve the quality of people’s lives. This is not happening and unless something does happen the political fortunes of the party will hang in the balance.
In all fairness the government must declare a moratorium on by-elections and use the money to attend to urgent public works that require attention. These include upgrading services in our health institutions including UTH where people are still lying on the floor and clinics where mothers also deliver on the floor