A consortium of 11 civil society organizations has given the Patriotic Front (PF) government seven days ultimatum in which to reverse the decision to scrap off subsidies on maize and fuel.
The CSOs demanded that subsides on fuel and maize be brought back within 7 days failure to which they would conduct countrywide demonstrations to force the PF government rescind its decision.
Addressing the Press at the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) secretariat, CSOs said that they were concerned with the ever increasing prices of essential commodities in the country.
“As concerned CSOs with the ever increasing prices of essential commodities in the country, we are here today (yesterday) to express our utmost disappointment with government for unilaterally removing subsidies without prior consultations with stakeholders such as Manufacturers Associations of Zambia, Millers Association of Zambia, Commuters Association of Zambia etc and the ripple effect of such unilateral decision is now clear to all,” said the consortium.
The consortium said that no amount of the removal of subsidies on fuel and agricultural commodities would reduce the suffering of many Zambians, adding that the action by government had now created challenges in many people’s lives.
The consortium said that Zambia had become a non-competitive country in the region, saying that the people of Zambia should expect industries to grind to a halt.
“The Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP) in mining, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and services sectors are all under threat as a result of the government’s action. Even the much talked about minimum wage has already lost meaning as its value has been eroded. The poor who used to have a meal a day are now unable to manage that meal,” they said. The CSOs said that after a deep reflection and in exercise of various fundamental constitutional freedoms and rights, “we have decided to declare every Friday a black Friday where all concerned citizens should put on a black attire starting tomorrow (today) to as an expression of displeasure and sympathy to many poor Zambian now affected with this increment in commodity prices.
Our unsolicited advice to government is to quickly arrest this situation before it is out of control. We don’t want to see the repeat of UNIP days of commodity shortages and protests. Accusing those raising these issues as armchair critics by State House is not a solution,” they said. Among the organizations that appended signature were Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), Anti Voter Apathy Project (AVAP), Chikondi Foundation, Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD), Operation Young Vote (OVY), Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL), Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU), 2410 Organisation, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue and Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).