Partisan NGOs blamed for Referendum failure

ANTI-VOTER Apathy Project (AVAP) Copperbelt provincial coordinator Poster Jumbe has severely criticized fellow non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for being partisan and supporting some opposition parties which contributed to the failure of the Referendum.

Mr Jumbe said he was disappointed that some NGOs which were supposed to be neutral and play a vital role in educating and sensitizing the people about the Referendum, were now celebrating the failure of the Referendum and accusing the ruling party of trying to use it to rig the August 11 elections.

The AVAP Copperbelt province chief said in an interview in Kitwe yesterday that the increasing number of partisan NGOs and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) could lead to members of the public losing confidence in the NGO movement.

“NGOs will continue to lose the confidence of the people if they continue to be partisan and behave as if they were wings of some political parties. Surely, how does an NGO accuse Government of using the Referendum to rig the election? When such words are uttered by an NGO, it shows that, that person has an allegiance to some political party.

“We expected NGOs to be non-partisan and play a vital role in sensitizing and educating people on the Referendum regarding the Bill of Rights so that people could understand the whole issue, but with some NGOs becoming wings of some political parties and misleading the public that the Referendum is meant to rig elections, then we have a problem,” Mr Jumbe said.

The failure of the Referendum has affected a number of organizations like the Zambia Deaf Youth and Women (ZDYW) which has blamed the failure of the Referendum on some opposition parties for de-campaigning the process which could have helped to enhance, promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities.

ZDYW executive director Frankson Musukwa said following the failure of the Referendum, youths with disabilities had lost a golden opportunity to have their rights well documented, enhanced, promoted, protected and enjoyed.

“The action by some political parties to politicize and de-campaign the Referendum was unpatriotic. We have lost a golden opportunity as YWD to have our rights well documented, enhanced, promoted, protected and enjoyed,” Mr Musukwa said.

And Mr Jumbe has said the pattern of voting which was exhibited in Southern Province and the beating of non-Tonga speaking people in the area was a clear indication of tribalism which Zambians should guard against.

“Only non-Tongas are being beaten in Southern Province, those who are Tongas are not being beaten even if they know that you voted for PF or Edgar Lungu. They are not beating fellow Tongas because they know they are their brothers and sisters.

“So you can see that the whole thing is not about voting for a better leader, but it is about voting for their tribesman. So this is dangerous,” he said.