SACCORD Reflections on President Sata’s Speech to Parliament

SACCORD press statement

The 2014 presidential address to the national assembly on 19th September 2014 brought more debate not on the issues that were raised by the president rather the manner in which the speech was delivered. While we commend the president for meeting his obligation to address the house, we find the content of his address not responsive to the immediate as we well long term needs of the people of Zambia. The Zambian people have been very consistent with regards the issues which they think need to be addressed with urgency. The president in his speech failed to give direction to the constitution making process, he also failed to provide clear direction on the promotion and protection of human rights for all the people in Zambia and failed to provide direction on how to address youth unemployment.

SACCORD would have loved to hear from the president how the above issues would be addressed considering that 2015 is the only year the PF as a government have to implement its manifesto as well as meet the many promises that the party made to Zambians. While we take note of his pronouncements with regards to increasing the bed spaces at three higher learning institutions namely University of Zambia, Copperbelt University and Mulungushi University, including the construction of new health training centres at Levy MwanawasaHospital and Senanga district, the lack of a human resource development program for current and new institutions might only go to work against these efforts.As SACCORD we commend the president for his clear direction on decentralization, industrialization through Industrial Development Corporation (INDECO) and his desire to see more women and children being protected in the country. Further, we would love the president to guide on how financial abuses recorded in the Auditor General’s reports will be addressed in order to safeguard public resources.

We would like to register our deepest disappointment with the way journalists from most private media institutions were treated by parliament. We condemn in the strongest terms the denial by parliament to private media organisation journalists to cover the presidential address from parliament as the practice has been always. Parliament which is supposed to be in the forefront of protecting laws that it makes should not engage in actions that seek to promote or protect political interests of those in power. We find the actions not only strange but a counter to press freedom. Parliament owes the people of Zambia an explanation as to why their sources of information could not be allowed to cover a key event such as the opening of parliament by the president. We further demand that the Speaker addresses the house on why private media journalists were not allowed to cover president Sata and in who’s interest the action was undertaken.SACCORD would also like to urge the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services to clarify this incident and state his government’s position on the same.

As the world commemorates the United Nations International Day of Peace whose theme is “right for people’s peace” which falls on 21st September, we would like to urge the people of Zambia to seriously reflect on how the country has been able to sustain peace in the midst of several armed conflicts that the region has experienced in the last 50 years. We urge politicians and other leaders to ensure that the country continues to build on the peace that has been enjoyed. Zambia needs deliberate efforts in ensuring that peace is sustained and we would like to repeat our call for the government to immediately begin working on developing a National Peace Architecture in order to put in place mechanisms for preventing and resolving conflicts. The country should never leave peace to chance.

 

Boniface Cheembe

Executive Director

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