Zambians want an explanation for the K150billion spent on the collapsed constitution making process.
This is a lot of money the executive has spent without justification.
Members of Parliament have every right to demand an explanation in the most effective manner possible to secure an explanation from Government. This is called accountability.
Accountability or answerability is the watchword for any functioning democracy.
Any Government that aspires to the credentials of being democratic should be accountable, transparent and of very high integrity in order to inspire and give hope to the people.
That is why the debate on the constitution, by elections and unbudgeted expenditure must be explained to the Zambian people who are the custodians of the funds expended.
Half truths and distorted information may persuade some people for some time but will certainly not fool all the people all the time.
Accountability is one way of preventing corruption and abuse of public funds. Corruption occurs where individuals use their positions of power and privilege to divert resources from their rightful use.
It is not true for example to suggest that the large number of by elections in Zambia is the result of individual losing candidates exercising their right to petition. The ruling party directed all losing candidates, as a matter of policy to petition their seats.
That is why, our position on this matter has never changed. We have said and will continue to say that by-elections are an abuse of authority and corruption that has cost this country very dearly.
The money that has gone into these by elections would have been better spent cushioning the vulnerable people in price stabilization support or direct social cash transfer.
Similarly the debate on the constitution has been diverted from real issues. The issue at hand is that Government has spent more than K150million on a process that did not have political will conclude; such expenditure is an abuse of authority.
It is common knowledge that the MMD Government spent more than K120million on the constitution making process which was boycotted and finally torpedoed by the Patriotic Front which was in opposition at the time.
That is why it is ironical that the Government seems determined to equally torpedo its own effort at a new constitution.
Republican President Michael Sata has been very clear in stating that Zambia has a functional constitution and did not see the pressure for a new one.
The fiction about arrangements being made for the draft constitution to be presented are exactly that; fiction because the executive hand has already been played publicly.
Knowledgeable writers on democracy have said “In a democracy, the principle of accountability holds that government officials—whether elected or appointed by those who have been elected—are responsible to the citizenry for their decisions and actions. Transparency requires that the decisions and actions of those in government are open to public scrutiny and that the public has a right to access such information. Both concepts are central to the very idea of democratic governance. Without accountability and transparency, democracy is impossible. In their absence, elections and the notion of the will of the people have no meaning, and government has the potential to become arbitrary and self-serving.”
That is why we take issue with the Speaker over the manner in which opposition MPs have been treated. It seems the interests of the executive have predominated over the genuine interest of the legislature which has demanded for accountability.
The executive cannot be allowed to spend huge amounts of money and then refuse to justify the expenditure. This is not acceptable.