The consortium of CSOs has challenged the Minister of Finance, Alexander Chikwanda and Home Affairs, Edgar Lungu, to clarify reports indicating that government has begun a system of purchasing and providing electricity vouchers to police officers.
The consortium observed that the move was ill-timed as it came at a time when government had done away with subsides on major commodities, and the majority poor had to pay for their own electricity.
And representing CSOs, FODEP executive director MacDonald Chipenzi said it was sad that government maintained that it was not ready to rescind its decision on the subsidies, but instead had gone ahead to mock citizens to sacrifice by bearing the high prices of commodities.
Mr Chipenzi said president Sata and his government were receiving 800 liters free fuel and enjoy free mealie meal without considering the poor majority.
“This is hypocritical of President Sata and his cabinet and we call upon them to sacrifice by leading by example in foregoing the free fuel that is being provided to them so that they would in turn enjoy the long term benefits together with all citizens,” he said.
Mr Chipenzi said the CSOs felt that the removed fuel subsidy of 12% could have been removed incrementally especially that both President Sata and his Minister of Finance had not indicated during their separate addresses to Parliament that government would remove subsidies in the year 2013.
The CSOs said it was totally unfair that the people of Zambia were still living in abject poverty when the senior officials were living in luxury.
Mr Chipenzi said it was for this reason the CSOs launched Black Friday to express their grievances over the high cost of living for the poor majority.
And the CSOs have since filed a notice to the police of their planned peaceful demonstration next Friday, May 31 in a bid to deliver their messages of solidarity to the ordinary Zambians hard hit by the removal of subsidies.
“In this regard, we would like to announce that the Consortium has filed a notice to the police of our planned peaceful demonstration next Friday, 31st May and we expect the police to come and march with us to a rally where we CSOs will deliver their messages of solidarity to the ordinary Zambians hard hit by the removal of subsidies and who continue to be asked to sacrifice while their leaders are busy not sacrificing instead increasing their salaries by 100%.”
The CSOs insisted that they still stand on their position that government must rescind its decision to remove subsidies and better still engage with other well meaning stakeholders who had offered some expertise in management of the economy.
“Though the sending of 70 ministers to explain the removal of subsidies on fuel and agricultural products should have been done before the action itself, this exercise alone will gobble millions of Kwachas in fuel and allowances for those going in the field and we also wonder whether all those ministers understand the issue of subsidies.” And bus drivers are expected to down tools on Friday, in protest at the increase in fuel pump prices and said that was the only way government would listen to the genuine complaints of the ordinary people.