6th November, 2012
WILL THE PF DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY FROM WHAT THE MMD USED TO DO?
Among the reasons why Zambians became so fed up with the MMD rule and consequently decided to show the then ruling party the door was the excessive arrogance of its leaders, entrenched disregard for the rule of law and wastefulness of public resources. The people of Zambia chose PF as a successor party to form government but the question being asked now is whether the PF is really committed to do things differently, especially in political governance, as they solemnly promised the people of Zambia as they canvassed for support in 2011? The events prior to and during the Mufumbwe by election seem to indicate a worrying development.
- 1. The question of the Public Order Act:
The current administration of this law by police with respect to the right to assembly and speech by the opposition political parties has left any reasonable Zambian baffled. How could PF, a party that suffered so much abuse by the same law while in opposition be comfortable to keep and use the same law to limit the freedoms of their opponents in the very same way they used to get harassed by the then ruling party? But perhaps what shocked this country more is the public declaration by the President that the current Public Order Act is a good law which needs to be even strengthened. Where is this country heading to?
- 2. Mufumbwe Parliamentary Seat:
The Mufumbwe seat became vacant when its sitting Member of Parliament, Steven Masumba, was expelled from his party, the MMD. For some of us who followed the events that led to the expulsion of Masumba from the MMD, it was clear that he was actually courting an expulsion from his party and the hand of the ruling party (PF) in his actions was very visible as well.
Again this was one of MMD’s many tactics of weakening the opposition when they were in power. The PF as an opposition party was a victim of such actions and also lamented the waste of public resources through orchestrated by elections. It is therefore mind boggling to see the same behaviour from the PF who promised to correct things in their election contract with the Zambia people. This is a clear breach.
- 3. Mufumbwe campaigns
One thing widely acknowledged by all stakeholders in the current Mufumbwe by election is that the campaigns are relatively violence free and it seems on this score, there has been some good learning from the past.
However, on Sunday 4th November 2012 ZNBC news coverage of the Mufumbwe election campaigns, it was shocking to see our President and his Ministers using the same old tactics of threatening voters with denial of government development programmes if they happen to elect an opposition candidate. Where is the free choice guaranteed by the code of human rights and our own Constitution? Didn’t the President swear to protect the Constitution?
There is also the aspect of the huge number PF Ministers and Deputies who poured in Mufumbwe for the campaign. Most Cabinet Ministers, their Deputies and even Provincial Ministers from far flung provinces are in Mufumbwe engaged in party campaigns. A Provincial Permanent Secretary was also captured in the media at a PF campaign rally! The question is where is the line between the Party and Government? Have we gone back to the “PIG” Party and Its Government of UNIP days? Who was attending to government ministerial duties when the whole Cabinet was in Mufumbwe? What costs is government incurring in the allowances of ministers, government man/woman hours lost and also use of government vehicles and fuel? These are serious matters of governance and stewardship of public resources that cannot just be glossed over and we hope the Constitution Technical Committee is closely monitoring these events to understand why Zambians want Cabinet from outside Parliament in the new Constitution.
As Caritas Zambia, we call upon the PF Government to walk the talk of their campaigns when they were in opposition. They promised among other things Good Governance anchored on respect for human rights and freedoms, the rule of law, good stewardship of public resources and tolerance of dissenting and alternative views. Unfortunately, very little of these values can be noticed from the PF rule to date.
Finally we appeal to the people of Mufumbwe to turn out in numbers on November 8th, 2011 and express their democratic right to elect a candidate of their choice as their Members of Parliament.
Caritas Zambia Executive Director