Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda should stop insulting Zambians who are demanding for measures that will address the collapse of the country’s economy, says Forum for Development and Democracy (FDD) spokesperson Antonio Mwanza.
In an interview, Mwanza said that Chikwanda’s statement suggesting that civil society organization leaders should not claim to be speaking for people because no one elected them was demeaning the very office he was occupying as Minister of Finance as he was also just a nominated member of parliament without a constituency.
“The sentiments attributed to Mr. Chikwanda that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are formed by failures who have failed to make ends meet is very embarrassing to say the least. Mr. Chikwanda further states that, leaders of CSOs should not claim to speak on behalf of the Zambian people because no one elected them. This a sad presumption Mr. Chikwanda has about Zambians and no wonder the country is failing to perform,” said Mwanza.
Mwanza said Chikwanda and the PF should understand that the Civil Society Organization were important actors in the governance of the country.
He said that it was time PF ministers respected and recognized the existence of other actors in the governance of the nation.
“Mr. Chikwanda ought to understand that Civil Society Organizations are vital and legitimate actors in any democratic dispensation. CSOs have an important responsibility of strengthening democracy by building social capital, increasing civic awareness and demanding transparency, accountability and the rule of law,” he said.
Mwanza said that it was unfortunate that PF leaders Chikwanda inclusive were in a habit of trivializing matters of national importance to the detriment of national development.
“Thus to trivialize or undermine the work of Civil Societies just because one is eating from a silver platter sponsored by poor people’s taxpayer’s money is very shameful and an affront to democracy,” he said.
“Whether the leaders of the Civil Society Organizations who have been calling on government to release the Draft Constitution are “failures” or “successful” in their personal lives does not carry any water because they too are Zambians and they too have every right to demand for a new Constitution.”
Mwanza said that Chikwanda should realize that the performance of the country’s economy had gone because of the arrogance of government.
“In fact if Mr. Chikwanda may wish to know, the leaders of LAZ, NGOCC, Oasis Forum and other CSOs are very enlightened citizens. However, the basic minimum principle is that one’s social status has nothing to do with one’s rights. Poor, rich, we are all equal under the law, we are all citizens and we should all participate freely in the governance of our country,” said Mwanza.
Mwanza said that Chikwanda’s statement that Civil Society leaders have no right to speak on behalf of the people since no one elected them was very laughable because, “let’s face facts, who elected Mr. Chikwanda? No one elected him. Mr. Chikwanda is today enjoying the powers and privileges of Parliament, thanks to President Sata who nominated him. Should Mr. Chikwanda therefore forfeit his right to participate in the governance issues of his country just because he is not an elected Member of Parliament? What kind of reasoning is this? This is the tragedy of having tired recycled leaders,” said Mwanza.He has since asked Chikwanda to rethink and do himself a huge favour by simply keeping quite rather than, “ issuing shallow and hollow statements that do not befit his age and office.”