By Sunday Chanda
Growth and stability of a nation demands that all its citizens and stakeholders commit themselves to ensuring peace, love and unity of purpose (regardless of political, religious and racial affiliation) always take centre stage.
As citizens and stakeholders in the affairs of Zambia, we are dismayed and disappointed with the continued political misdemeanors being exhibited by United Party for National Development (UPND). The last five (5) years have been marred by political violence, lack of patriotism, witch-hunts and mudslinging by UPND and its international sponsors. We expected leadership to be exhibited with the UPND leader condemning these happenings.
A. CHECKS AND BALANCES
At the behest of Mr Hichilema, UPND MPs have spent the last five (5) years staging parliamentary walkouts and opposing progressive pieces of legislation without undertaking the full course of parliamentary processes which demand and require bills to be debated and put to a vote. The primary purpose and responsibility of Parliamentarians is to represent their employers (the citizens of Zambia), to pass laws, and to foster development in the constituencies they represent.
The failure of a progressive bill such as Bill 10 will always be remembered as one which took away from the nation a lot of good things including proportional representation, recognition of traditional leaders and enshrining the Christian-hood of Zambia in the constitution.
UPND MPs have drastically failed to represent citizens interest when it matters and counts most but would rather appease and gratify their leader.
We urge UPND MPs to remember that as a parliamentarian, you are part of government simply because you belong to one of the three (3) arms which is the Legislature. Next time you want to say “government has failed”, remember you are a key part of government!
B. ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
On Economic matters, it`s very saddening to see our colleagues always rejoice whenever the nation faces challenges. One would expect that patriotism levels in a party that seeks aspires to form government would be top tier and unquestionable yet we see the lowest of true commitment and dedication to economic well-being. They would rather the country is in limbo and economic quagmire than see it prosper all for selfish interests.
We have on several occasions heard, read and witnessed negative sentiments from the UPND whenever economic shocks resound. In the advent of Covid-19, the UPND has not for a moment held its breath nor relented to point fingers at President Lungu and the PF over economic downturns which are being experienced globally. This level of desperation must not be tolerated by all Zambians! We know for a fact that the UPND has no plan or roadmap for this country and its citizens because the PF has left no stone unturned and has left no one behind in its development drive. We challenge the UPND to tell the nation what plans they have as they seek office in 2021.
Despite the challenges and hardships we face today, Zambians have seen and are beneficiaries of the developmental projects across the country. PF has delivered and continues under President Edgar Lungu to deliver unprecedented Development on all fronts. Infrastructure development is a key economic driver and continues to open up the country`s economic fortunes thanks to access to good roads for distribution of goods and services, increased access to electricity to bolster production, access to god health facilities under the universal healthcare program bringing facilities within a 5km radius of every community, access to improved education facilities, early distribution of farming inputs, and increased access to clean water and sanitation.
President Lungu continues to champion women and youth economic empowerment through various interventions and programs such across the country. Our colleagues in the opposition should take leaf from this; we challenge them to show leadership for national growth by mentoring and empowering women and youth.
However, the opposite is all we see from them. They are quick to silence the voice of women, youth and disabled citizens who deserved dedicated seats in parliament. They would rather empower the youth with tools of violence than see them as equals in national development.
On the debt position, Government earlier this year (in may) announced that it had engaged a French Bank Lazard Frères as a consulting firm to undertake debt restructuring services for Zambia over the next 3 years. No sooner had the announcement been made than Mr Hichilema without much thought took to social media issuing unfounded negative remarks over the move which was received with positivity among international stakeholders including bondholders.
Last week, Mr. Hichilema issued a statement stating that Zambia must engage the IMF and also take leaf from Argentina over debt restructuring. Zambia and the IMF have been in talks for over 3 years now. Mr Hichilema should also know that Argentina engaged the same French firm as Zambia has done. Zambia is this week expected to have further talks with the IMF. This selective amnesia and lack of honesty to self and country leaves much to be desired.
In conclusion, we challenge the UPND party to engage in politics of substance and objectivity. Zambians deserve to know what each political aspirant holds in store for them.
What will the UPND party do for this country? Why should Zambians vote for them? Is UPND a democratic party? If so, why has the party never held intraparty elections since 2005? Zambians deserve to know.