STATEMENT – A CALL ON THE PRESIDENT OF ZAMBIA TO CALL AN END TO THE UNDECLARED WAR AMONG ZAMBIANS VIA A LIVE NATIONAL INTERACTION PROGRAMME
The daily quarrels, threats against citizens and defensive tactics by those in positions of authority suggest that there is an undeclared war in Zambia; a war of words which now and then erupts into actual violence. I believe that the President can help to diffuse the situation by addressing issues that are contributing to the unbridled antagonism, hatred and tension in our nation. To end this undeclared war I once again call upon the President of Zambia, as I did in October 2012, to face the people of Zambia via a live radio and television interaction to address current issues that are creating concern in the nation.
President Sata’s silence since he won the election in September 2011 till today in February 2013 is strange and uncharacteristic for one whose hallmark has been talking and talking and talking for ten years! It is as though somebody or something is now holding him to ransom. To prove that he is not a captive president let him appear on a live television and radio interview for at least two hours to face the people of Zambia.
Last year this call may have sounded negative so let me explain further the positives that we may all gain. There are many contentious issues and serious rumours in the political arena that will simply not go away but may be put to rest by an honest interaction with the people. Some issues have a bearing on our national security (e.g. does the Commander-In-Chief believe that street kids in Matero are better than his Defence and Security personnel?) a good number are governance issues; several are real policy and economic issues while others may just be irritating but divisive campaign rhetoric. A question and answer session may bury the rumours and parry any lies and misconceptions all round. I believe that once the President addresses and answers all the critical questions truthfully and transparently detractors, if any, may be silenced.
It is imperative for the President to address us after nearly two years of no such address (a record in the history of Zambia’s 49 years of independence). Winning an election is not the be-all and end-all of our political journey; neither is it a blank cheque to do as a winning political party wishes. In fact it is highly misleading for any political party in Government to claim that they received a mandate through the ballot to do as they please. Voters do not vote on each and every clause in a manifesto but, as in the last presidential election, they were merely choosing one servant out of several applicants. Hence the Chief Servant must avail himself, once in a while, to the employers. The President has accepted another invitation to address an international audience in Asia – fine. So why must he refuse or neglect to face his own people here in Zambia for close to two years?
For the proposed interview to be productive I urge the President to prepare well to address the nation live generally on the Rule of Law vis a vis democratic governance as he views this topic; on Decentralisation; the Public Order Act; rights and freedoms of citizens as he perceives them; traditional rulers and their role in national affairs; justification of the increased arrests of political opponents; is it true that there was a parallel PF security structure which has now been infused in the government main system without following usual stringent government procedures? If so where did these people come from? Are they all Zambians? Is it true that our airspace is porous as announced by the Minister of Tourism? What was the rationale for recalling literary the whole civil service from diplomatic service and what has become of these Zambians and their families? What is his rationale for appointments, in the light of the obvious Family Forrest? The role and justification of the “First Lady’s ‘office’” in the Zambian context and why its creation was fast-tracked after public criticism; the sudden launching of the so-called “Link Zambia” before the budgetary approval by Parliament; explaining why he has joined the government media who were vilifying him when in opposition but now are his weapon against his erstwhile opposition friends; etc, etc.
The interviewing panel must not be from his new allies the Government public media, but from independent journalists or even only foreign journalists should he prefer that! It is suggested that the President engages the public for about 30 minutes, presenting his case uninterrupted as he chooses to do. Thereafter he must answer questions from callers for at least one hour (no fidgeting with phone lines).
One of the job descriptions of the Republican President in the Constitution is to provide leadership, or more accurately direction. It is not leadership to keep quiet in the face of uncertainty, division, confusion and tension in the nation. Mr President, we call!
GODFREY MIYANDA,BRIGADIER GENERAL,HERITAGE PARTY[19th February 2013