Wednesday, December 3, 2014
ALLIANCE FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE (AGG) STATEMENT AHEAD OF 20th JANUARY 2015 ISSUED AT FODEP HOUSE ON 3RD DECEMBER, 2014
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, The Alliance for Good Governance has been observing the political and economic developments in the country before, during and after the death of President Michael Chilufya Sata. Some of the events that have occurred since have not been inspirational. The Alliance feels strongly that politics is too important and precious to be left only in politicians and has become ever more aware that the life of our nation is not a responsibility of a group of people or leaders alone but the common social responsibility of all the citizens. Good governance is about elected leaders being accountable and responsive to the needs of the people and about people ready to hold their leaders accountable. AGG has observed the bizarre tendencies of corruption, culture of lies, dishonesty as well as tribal and political violence which seem to be getting deep-rooted in the Zambian society and we feel that no external law will easily uproot them EXCEPT we ourselves change our attitude and behavior. Therefore, we don't expect citizens to continue tolerating such tendencies among politicians. Time to hold them against their promises is now. From the onset, the Alliance is concerned with increased levels of intra-party intolerance and confusions which potentially pose a great threat to the growth of party and national democracy. In this regard, we call on PF and MMD leadership to resolve their internal leadership wrangles immediately to instill political and electoral confidence in the public. What is happening in these parties can be best described as total political anarchy. In this vein, AGG is proud to hold this briefing to add its voice on a number of issues that have rocked the country. We note that over the months, political squabbles have become the order of the day and are potentially threatening the very fabric of our political and democratic system. The happenings in MMD and PF are not inspirational and require immediate solution to preserve the unity and the peace in these two major political parties in particular and the nation at large. They cannot continue fighting when they are supposed to be governing or indeed provide checks and balances in the governance process of the country. For the PF, they have not handled their affairs properly before, during and after the death of President Sata. The party has not exhibited any maturity and good leadership traits hence the continued infighting which is affecting the management of national affairs. We hoped the convention would unite and refocus the party on serving Zambians ahead of presidential election to our surprise, what has come out is a widen political rift between the contending parties. As a party in power, their continued wrangling has had serious spillover effects as evidenced by government's failure to resolve the payment of farmers' dues despite the rainy season commencing. The money to the farmers being held by the government was supposed to be used to buy farming inputs and other farm essentials. This non-payment of the farmers will greatly affect next year's harvest and consequently household food security of many. With this in mind, AGG wants to ask all presidential candidates to address the following governance issues 1. The Constitution Reform Process: AGG expects the new government to quickly enact a new people driven constitution. We are gratified that some presidential candidates have already pledged their commitment to the enactment of the constitution through the signing of the Presidential Candidate's Pledge developed by the Grand Coalition on the Campaign for People Driven Constitution in Zambia. We expect that more candidates will follow suit and make this public commitment than just offering lip service to the process. The new constitution therefore will require a new mentality and new social attitude towards the common good; 2. Legal Reforms a. Review or do away with the NGO Act No. 16 of 2009: AGG expects the new government or administration to do away with the NGO Act which has brought great anguish among civil society. Many civil societies are comfortable with their current status in terms of regulation and it would be an infringement on their freedom of association to force them register under the law which they have rejected. b. Public Order Act and Penal Code: AGG is greatly concerned the way these pieces of legislation have been applied by the law enforcement agencies in Zambia. The new government should desire to review the laws so that they become in line with the democratic tenets. It will be unfortunate for the incoming government to entertain and embrace such draconian and colonial laws on our statutes books. c. Access to Information Law: The new government should immediately enact the access to information law to promote anti-corruption crusade and ensure a transparent and accountable governance system in Zambia. 3. Retirement Age and wage and employment free: AGG expects the new government to reverse the statutory instrument that gave birth to the change of retirement age from 55 to 65 years especially taking into account the life expectancy in Zambia and high unemployment levels among the young people and also lift the unilaterally imposed wage and employment freeze. 4. Tradition leadership: AGG is desirous to see that the institution of chieftaincy remain independent of political interference. The previous way of managing chiefdom affairs by the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs has been unpleasant. The ministry was effectively used to create patronage among the chiefs. It is in this vein that AGG appeal to the new government to recognize Mr. Henry Sosala who has suffered public humiliation as Paramount Chief Chitimukulu of the Bemba speaking people. 5. District Realignment: AGG is not averse to the creation of new districts as it is good for effective service delivery. However, AGG is averse to the changing traditional boundaries for any reason. It is for this reason that AGG calls on the new government to review and reverse the realignment of districts back to their origin provinces. 6. Electoral Reforms: as we move towards the presidential election and learning from the past experiences, it becomes clear that electoral reforms are inevitable in Zambia for us to have credible elections in 2016 and beyond. The new government should ambitiously embark on the electoral reforms especially with the enactment of the new constitution. 7. Road Development Agency (RDA): we expect the new government to reverse the relocation of RDA from State House back to the Ministry responsible as it has become apparently difficult to ensure accountability in the conduct of its business. 8. Separation of power and the rule of law: If Zambia's constitutional democracy is to take root and appreciated by majority, the constitution must be respected by all regardless. We expectant that the new government will restore the democratic principles of the separation of power and the rule of law. Currently, the executive is the too powerful as demonstrated by its deliberate and continuous ignoring and overriding decisions and recommendations from other arms of government. For instance, the current happenings where court orders are ignored and parliamentary recommendations are overlooked by the executive are clear signs of the breakdown of the rule of law. 9. By-parliamentary by-elections: If it were not for the breakdown of the rule of law where institutions take their time to make decisions on straight forward matters, AGG expected that Malambo, Mulobezi and Petauke Central parliamentary by-elections would have been held together with the presidential elections. The holding of these by-elections is long overdue and we are a loss to appreciate why the Court has not decided on this matter despite the constitution instructing that once a vacancy is created in an elective office, elections should be held in 90days. With these three constituencies, we are now heading into more than two years without holding these elections making a mockery of our representative democracy. 10. PF presidential Candidates: we are aware of the impasse in the PF camp with regards their presidential candidates. However, of interest to us is that the two claimants are members of parliament who are ineligible to contest the presidential elections as long as they remain in their parliamentary seats. We may seek the interpretation of the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) on the meaning of Article 65 which states "a person who holds, or is a validly nominated candidate in an election for, the office of the president shall not be qualified for election as a member of the national assembly" to ascertain whether or not the two parliamentarians should remain in their elective constituency based seats as parliamentarians or relinquish should of one them one be validly get nominated by the party and consequently by ECZ. Does this entail a looming by-election in either Chawama or Matero constituency? Therefore, despite democracy being a good form of government, it requires that citizens exercise their social responsibility of holding the elected leaders to account. AGG calls on all Zambian citizens to remain vigilant and exercise their social responsibility before, during and after the elections. We encourage them to choose wisely now that another opportunity has been given to them to vote. Time has come to give the leadership mantle to the young generation while the old generation remains as governance, economic, social and cultural advisors to the young leaders. It will be a disservice for old generation to continue blocking young people from taking up political leadership responsibility in the name of lack of experience. How do they get experience when the old people continue to occupy those positions? To the church, it is not only the conscience of society that you carry but you act as an educator of the society's conscience. It is our belief that the church will provide nonpartisan leadership before, during and after the presidential elections. This goes to the media also and the traditional leadership.