THERE is need for a deep evaluation of the social economic status of the country as Zambia celebrates its 50 years of political independence, says the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) board chairperson Beatrice Grillo.
She said it was imperative to introspect and reflect on Zambia’s collective achievements and failures. In joining the rest of country to commemorate 50 years of political independence, Ms Grillo said Zambia needed to take stock as a nation to rediscover it self and interrogate the reasons why the majority of the people, especially women and children, remained poor.
“Why 50 years after independence, we still have high unemployment levels especially among our youths? Why 50 years after independence, Zambia still does not have what would be called a truly Zambian Constitution. To this date, we are still somewhat “yoked” under a colonial tailored Constitution!
“The Golden Jubilee is a time to start afresh, a time to reawaken and chart the way forward for our collective destiny. We call upon our national leadership to address some fundamental issues if we are to realize the dreams of our forefathers who fought for our liberation,” she said.
Ms Grillo said it was time that Zambians fully liberated themselves by having a new Zambian constitution which would embody the aspirations of the people because most of the country’s economy and social challenges would be addressed.
“We therefore appeal to the Patriotic Front (PF) Government as the party in power during this Golden Jubilee to facilitate for a new Constitution without any further delay. With a good Constitution, governance will be more structured and hence enhance development and reduce poverty,” she said.
She also noted with sadness that 50 years after independence, women’s participation in national development processes had remained low while appreciating the appointment of some women to key positions by the PF government.
She said her organisation was deeply concerned with the emerging culture of intolerance among political parties and players, both from the opposition and the ruling party. The differences should not lead to a situation where people begin to kill each other and called upon politicians to denounce political violence and exercise more tolerance.
Mr Grillo also observed that Zambia had continued to register physical, sexual, mental, social and economic abuses at various levels that affected everyone, especially women and girl children. She said it was sad to note that these cases of GBV had continued to be on the increase despite the scourge having far reaching effects on the country and that there was need to immediately stamp out the scourge especially going into the next 50 years.
The NGOCC chairperson noted that while Government had made significant efforts to improve Zambia’s health status, the country still faced a number of important health issues characterized by high disease burden and reducing but yet high Maternal Mortality and Infant Mortality Rates.
“According to the Ministry of Health, the key health challenges include Malaria, Tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS, child health, malnutrition and maternal health among others. Maternal health is a very significant health problem in Zambia, as reflected in the high rates of maternal deaths. “The 2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) shows that maternal mortality ratio in Zambia is at 591 per 100,000 live births. Although this indicates a reduction from 729 per 100,000 live birth in 2003, (MOH 2005:3), it is still too high and could be attributed to poor access to health facilities and low-quality health care delivery,” she said. Ms Grillo said as Zambia celebrated the Golden Jubilee, there was need for the Government to address the above mentioned issues among others and that as a matter of urgency, the Government should give the Zambian people a new Constitution as a Jubilee present.