2nd May, 2015
SACCORD Statement on President Lungu’s first 90 days in office
Following the 20th January 2015 presidential election which saw Edgar Lungu being elected president of Zambia and the promises made to the nation and voters during the campaigns leading to the same election, SACCORD would like to offer an assessment of the performance of the President Lungu administration. While we remain fully aware that the mandate for Mr. Lungu was a continuation of the broader PF program, we believe that time is ripe to assess him on his own performance as the president of Zambia.
On a positive note, we have taken note of intentions to run an open government as seen from weekly updates after cabinet meetings. This has helped in providing timely information to citizens on government decisions as well as programs. Our hope is that in future there will also be updates on successes recorded out of those decisions so that we do not just have pronouncements without real action. We also note that president Lungu was a little more open on his health following his public collapse during the International Women’s Day commemoration at Heroes stadium on 8th March 2015.
Among the promises made during the campaigns included facilitating for Zambians to have a new constitution before the 2016 elections. We have sadly seen backtracking on the part of government with several statements being issued on how it is going to be too costly to hold a referendum as demanded by many Zambians. Government has proposed partial amendments which might not receive opposition support with the risk being the collapse of the whole process. The PF with Mr. Lungu as candidate also promised to reduce youth unemployment, reduce poverty and pursue the fight against corruption. Sadly it appears that there is nothing positive that has so far been done by government in this line. Youth unemployment, poverty and corruption are still at unacceptable levels.
One of the negatives of the 2015 presidential election was the divisive nature of the campaigns. Apart from the not so popular and influential One Zambia One Nation slogan, it appears little has been done by the government to unite the people of Zambia. Some pronouncements from some government officials are very divisive and have the potential to further divide the country. Some senior PF officials have also continued to issue statements that are derogatory to their political opponents thereby perpetuating the political divisions the country is experiencing.
On the economic front the Zambian economy has not helped in reducing poverty. The weakened kwacha has further increased on the cost of doing business which is ultimately affecting consumers negatively. Government has also seemingly not done much to promote media freedoms. There are constant threats on the private media by officials in government while some news websites still remain locked from access in Zambia. The public media has also seemingly continued to blackout opposition parties except for well known allies of the PF who get coverage for either attaching fellow opposition political parties or sing praises for the PF and its government. Any opposition political party that is perceived of being too critical of the PF does not get coverage.
As Zambia moves ahead into the 2016 elections, we expect the government to improve on poverty alleviation, create jobs especially for the youth and ensure that the constitution making process is concluded with a referendum as demanded by majority of Zambians. We further expect the president and his government to unite the people and avoid derogatory statements against political opponents. The government must also stop threats on private media institutions in addition government business must also be given to private media institutions not what is currently pertaining. The public media which is owned by every Zambian must be let free to give coverage to all interest groups in the country including those critical of the party in government.
SACCORD believes that with honesty, those in government can serve the people better and improve the living conditions of all the people in the country. We finally urge President Lungu to be more transparent with the people of Zambia as he concludes his current term.