The Patriotic Front (PF) is gravely concerned with the reports that we are receiving that some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in collusion with the Opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) Alliance are working and engaging with a view to frustrate a well intended effort by government to table the National Dialogue Forum Bill before Parliament.
We are reliably informed that the CSOs are meeting at a named Lodge in Lusaka where this evil plan is being hatched.
We urge these CSOs and its leaders to put the interests of the people of Zambia first ahead of partisan interest!
The Zambian people should be reminded that had it not been the politicisation of the governance reforms and the antagonist position taken by the CSOs, this country would have had a powerful and effective Bill of Rights. Sadly, simply because of partisan and sectarian interests some CSOs working in collusion with UPND shot down the bill of rights in 2016 which was meant guarantee citizens fundamental rights!
Zambians have not forgotten, that the same CSOs working under the Umbrella body called the Grand Coalition frustrated government efforts and ensured that the bill of rights failed to meet the threshold stipulated in the Republican Constitution.
The Zambian people should be reminded once again that had it not been for the political will, resilience and hardwork of the PF government the 2016 amended constitution with very progressive clauses would not have been passed. The same CSOs boycotted participation at the Committee Stage in Parliament in an effort to shoot down a progressive bill.
As a party, we wonder, what is the actual motive of these CSOs? Because it is now becoming apparent that this is not about the governance reforms!
The reforms that government is implementing are well elaborated in the party manifesto of the Patriotic Front! We promised the Zambian people that we would amend the Constitution, the Public Order Act and all the other key reforms that we outlined to the people when we were campaigning!
We are aware that these CSOs have been receiving funding from donors to push for legislative reforms that entrench democratic governance in Zambia.
We ask the question; are these not the reforms that CSOs have been advocating and lobbying for, for the past 28 years since we attained multiparty democracy?
We have been told time and again that there is shrinking democratic space, which of course has not been substantiated by empirical data; but again we ask why would these organisations go to all this length demanding for the amendment of these pieces of legislation meant to widen political participation and then all of a sudden turn round to try and frustrate the same effort by government?
This is hypocrisy of the worst kind!
Its sad that they are making advocacy and lobbying a fund raising venture for their personal gain at the expense if the people of Zambia!
As for the Patriotic Front, we remain committed and resolute to meet the aspirations of the people of Zambia.
The President of the Republic of Zambia, who is also our party President, His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu is determined to ensure that all governance reforms that aimed at increasing political participation and bettering accountability and service delivery become a reality! No amount of distraction will sway our resolve to ensure that we meet the aspirations of the people of Zambia! The Patriotic Front owes it to the Zambian people to ensure that the governance reforms agenda becomes a reality.
We also want to put it on record that as a party we are determined that when President Edgar Chagwa Lungu leaves office in 2026, one of the key legacies of his Presidency will be the fulfilment of an effective governance system that puts the Zambian people at pinnacle of decision making!!
Lastly, we wish to remind our colleagues in civil society and their allies in the UPND of an old maxim that says “process protects the content”. We want to be clear that all processes to amend the Constitution and all the other subsidiary legislation will done in accordance with the prescribed methodology espoused in the supreme law of the land! The National Dialogue Forum is a creation of Parliament hence its resolutions will still require ratification of Parliament. The Constitution is clear that Parliament is the legitimate people’s voice and hence the only body mandated by law and the people of Zambia to make and amend laws!!
The shall be no shortcuts! Our government is the government of Laws!!!