What Michael Sata said in UK in 2011

What Michael Sata said in UK in 2011

4. Challenges Facing Opposition Parties

In Zambia, it is not only the electoral system that opposition parties have to contend with. It is also the following:

➢ Government intimidation and abuse
• The intimidation is incessant and has major effects;

• Law enforcement agencies including the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), the police, the Drug Enforcement Commission and the intelligence are used to curtail the freedom of assembly and association.
• Police arrests and intimidation against the opposition.

• The public media are used as vehicles of personal slander and hate speeches.

• Government programmes are abused for campaign purposes even before the commencement before announcement of election date.

• Of late government and ruling party induced physical violence is used to disrupt operations and programmes of opposition parties. Recent cases bear evidence of this.
All these methods which are against the electoral legislation, are used to cripple the opposition especially their leadership.
➢ The Challenge of Resource Mobilisation
No business organisation would want to openly sponsor an opposition party, lest their businesses are “crippled” by various methods which the government uses. The ruling party awards business contracts to their friends and cadres, who are in turn expected to fund its operations e.g the recent NAPSA land scandal which government purchased land at US$15 million from a private firm owned by a cadre, which land the government could have obtained freely. Clearly, over the past 15 years, money and corruption have been at the centre on undemocratic elections in Zambia.
➢ Human Resource is equally difficult to find. People are far too busy struggling for ‘survival’ from day to day, that they will not avail themselves for voluntary party work. In any case, who would want to back a loser? In spite of the foregoing odds, many Zambians are stepping forward to bring about regime change.
➢ Media coverage is another critical requirement. While the ruling party can abuse the public media, the opposition have no access to the public media in spite of the statutes. The opposition continues to have no access to the public media in Zambia, instead they have to rely on the goodwill of the independent or private media, who are poorly funded and are themselves under constant threat of closure if seen to offer platform to the opposition.
➢ Parliamentarians who are ‘bought’ by the ruling party through offered inducements in the parliament and in the executive through awards of private businesses or direct bribery. Rules are deliberately broken and quietly justified.
➢ Fragmentation amongst the opposition groups – government abuses their position and public resources to induce fragmentation in faith-based organisations, civil society, trade unions and political parties. Furthermore, the current constitutional provisions are multi-party in name only.

All these methods which are against the electoral legislation, are used to cripple the opposition especially their leadership.

Economically the majority of Zambians continue to be worse off even as the macro-economic environment is reported to be good because the benefits are not reaching the majority. This can only happen when there is a policy environment and good governance system that responds to people’s needs.
Many of you at this gathering, may not be aware that in fact Zambia was already a middle income nation status, at the time of its independence in 1964.
Currently rural poverty has reached alarming levels of as high as 84%. Although current urban poverty is reported to average 34 percent (%), it is infact much higher than that figure when one reflects on the statistics of the low-cost (peoples) townships. Because of this most of our citizens have had to resort to survival businesses and tactics, hence the emergence of plastic and tin-clad business stands along most city and country roads. Inspite of the claims by the current government that the GDP growth figures are averaging 5% to 7% over the last five years, yet the level of inflation has ranged between 8.5% to 16.6%, during the same period, much higher than the growth levels. The cost of living for an average family of eight (8) people comprising father, mother and six (6) children, in Lusaka, according to a defined food basket has been about £460 per month, while the government’s permissible minimum wage currently is below £50 per month.
Zambia’s total population now stands at 13 million people against 3.2 million at the time of independence from Britain in 1964. A major feature of our population is in fact a complete contrast with the profile of European Union countries. In Zambia, approximately 9 million are young people below the age of 25 years. Approximately 300,000 of them exit education and training institutions yearly, with only 5000 being able to find jobs. The total number of people in formal employment is currently standing at slightly less than 430,000 as it was 20 years before. The bulk of our people have either never had any formal employment or ever engaged even in some informal work of any kind.
It is this kind of environment, that breeds youth-led revolutions such as those occurring in North Africa and the Arab world. Having stated what I have, let me then share with this audience my vision and that of the Patriotic Front for Zambia when the citizens have elected our party.

***• Public officials, including former Presidents, who act outside the law, should not expect to get away with their mischief.

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