The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has been following with keen interest the PF Government’s assurances and promises since its historic victory of 20th September, 2011. YALI is saddened with the U-Turns that have characterized the PF’s 60days in government on a number of key issues of national interest. This constant change of positions and U-turns does not inspire confidence amongst our people and the youth who voted in large numbers for this Government.
YALI considers it unpatriotic to argue that assurances and promises made by the PF were mere campaign promises, and that once the PF had formed government, it has had to rationalize and make well-informed decisions against positions which won them the election. Such narrow-minded reasoning simply means that the PF leadership did not understand the issues they were talking about during the campaign period and would only mean two things: either the PF did not actually believe in what they had been saying or is deliberately misleading and taking the Zambian people for granted. The PF Government must be judged based on its manifesto and assurances it continued to make after forming government.
The Constitutional-making process
The Republican President and the Patriotic Front as a whole told the people of Zambia that they will deliver a new Constitution within 90 days. YALI believes that this was not merely a campaign issue but also contributed to the loss the MMD suffered in the tripartite elections. The assurance was in tandem with the longing of Zambians for a people-driven constitution that would stand the test of time. The promise by the ruling party to deliver the Constitution within the 90-day period was not only a relief to many Zambians but also raised people’s hopes and inspired their confidence in the PF Government. This roadmap was not only logical but also cost-effective as Government would not go on yet another path of wasting taxpayers’ money on a process that has been adequately deliberated and exhausted by the previous Constitution Review Commissions (CRCs). It is therefore very disappointing and frustrating that this Government has decided to U-turn on this very important promise to the Zambian people by deliberately delaying the process.
What is particularly annoying is the fact that even when he opened the First Session of the 11th National Assembly, the President assured Zambians that the new Constitution will be in place within 90 days. The President’s speech in parliament is not a campaign promise but a roadmap and government assurance which Government provides to the Zambian people on what is expected to be implemented during the whole year. This is a very important speech and the President, his advisors, if he has any, together with the Honourable Justice Minister Sebastian Zulu, SC should have thought through all the pronouncements before delivering this important speech to the nation.
YALI believes the terms of reference for the Committee of experts to review the previous four Constitutions is not only unnecessary but will also elongate the period and will be done at a great cost to taxpayers. Young leaders have taken legal notice that the Willa Mung’omba Constitution Review Commission had already reviewed submissions to all previous CRCs and repeating the process is merely a waste of the much needed public resources and an affront to justice and national development.
The U-turn by Government from the 90-day period to 365-days for delivering the supreme law of the land has no nobility at all and is meant to create opportunities for patronage among eminent persons and organisations appointed to review the Constitution in a process which is simply putting “more money in the few individuals’ pockets.” We are of the opinion that issues of numbers and demographic composition of the committee of experts is and must never be an issue. YALI is of the view that such a Committee is in fact unwarranted at this stage of the country’s constitution-making process. The work that this Committee is doing has already been done by the able members of the previous CRCs. Young leaders are of the view that technocrats in the Ministry of Justice should have been, within the 90-day period, directed to review contentious issues, errors and inconsistencies in the previous Constitution which collapsed in the last session of Parliament thereby saving a lot of resources going into this process.
The Fight against Corruption
YALI fears that the fight against corruption in Zambia is slowly becoming another kleptocratic tool to gunner political mileage. If this trend is not reversed, Zambia will continue witnessing misallocation of billions of taxpayers to benefit few individuals at the expense of national development. YALI, in the strongest terms, condemn the very thought of the Republican President to appoint convicts and questionable characters that have been tainted with corruption and amassed unexplained wealth. We note that the President has gone on the same path of using excessive presidential powers he used to condemn as an opposition leader to pardon and appoint persons to public service who are appearing before our courts of law even before their cases are concluded. This renders the separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary an academic exercise in Zambia’s democratic governance.
We shudder to think the name of Xavier Chungu could have even crossed the mind of the President for appointment to public service. YALI notes that President Sata has among others appointed Emmanuel Mwamba, Chiluba’s press aide as Northern Province Permanent Secretary and former defence minister George Mpombo earmarked as ambassador to Nigeria. These are persons who have not yet been cleared by our courts of law and we do not expect the President to interfere with the due process of the law by issuing unnecessary pardons which only serve his narrow interests. The very mention of such names, including Dr. Simon Miti, Sheryl Thole and pardoning of Judge Ngoma barely a day after the court granted him bail pending the appeal hearing completely negates the talk of fighting corruption and separation of powers. We also demand the Police investigate allegations made by Committee of Citizens director Gregory Chifire that the President’s Son, Mulenga Sata has in the n the last 60 days bought expensive property among them a brand new Jeep costing about K800 million and a brand new GX, valued at about K1 billion without unnecessarily victimising Mr. Chifire.
Wining the fight against corruption requires principled and resolute leadership against the vice and its perpetrators and promotion of good democratic governance. Our young people will continue to wonder what the fate of Chiluba would have been if he was alive. Was the President going to fulfil his 2006 campaign promise to pardon Chiluba and his tandem of thieves or was he going to stick to his new found love of being ‘allergic to corruption’ or probably U-turn in the same manner his Government has been U-turning on a lot of issues?
Wind fall Taxes on the mines
The PF promised to re-introduce the windfall tax once elected into government, a matter which is well articulated in the PF manifesto. The issue of windfall taxes was very heavily debated before Zambia’s tripartite elections and won the Patriotic Front the peoples support which gave them a mandate to govern this country. YALI strongly believes the matter of wind fall taxes is very crucial and should not be thrown away without convincing, well thought-out and logical explanations from Government. YALI demands that a comprehensive explanation by the President and his Government must be given on why Government has decided to renegade on this important promise.
The expectations of our people are very high; they need jobs, more money in their pockets and better opportunities as per the PF campaign promises. This poses a greater challenge on this government to perform and deliver on its promises as failure to meet these expectations is a time bomb and may result in mass discontent among so many young voters. The consequences of such discontent would be catastrophic as there are enough examples from other parts of the continent for everyone to see. For instance, the uprisings in the Arab world were caused by young people who felt their governments were not paying attention to their needs and aspirations. Zambia may not be spared if these majority young voters feel that they have been deceived. YALI therefore calls on this government to walk the talk and stop wish-washing with the “don’t-kubeba” syndrome in the running of national affairs.
Young African Leaders Initiative