Bookmark and Share

Broken Promises – National Restoration Party (NAREP) Press Conference – Current National issues, Thursday 1 March 2012

Posted Mar 01, 2012

GOOD MORNING LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF THE MEDIA.

IN DECEMBER 2010, A 26 YEAR OLD FRUIT AND VEGETABLE SELLER BY THE NAME OF MOHAMED BOUAZIZI SET HIMSELF ON FIRE IN THE RURAL TOWN OF SIDI BOUZID IN TUNISIA AFTER BEING PUBLICLY HUMILIATED BY A POLICE OFFICER. THIS SEEMINGLY RANDOM ACT OF SELF-INFLICTED VIOLENCE TRIGGERED AN UPRISING THROUGHOUT NORTH AFRICA AND SOME MIDDLE EASTERN NATIONS, THE REPERCUSSIONS OF WHICH ARE BEING FELT EVEN AS WE MEET TODAY. SINCE THAT TIME, GOVERNMENTS IN TUNISIA, LIBYA, YEMEN AND EGYPT HAVE FALLEN IN WHAT HAS COME TO BE KNOWN AS THE ARAB SPRING.

INDEED ZAMBIA TOO HAS SEEN A CHANGE – ONLY IN OUR CASE IT HAS BEEN FAR MORE PEACEFUL. BUT IT IS THIS VERY PEACE THAT IS NOW BEING THREATENED BY THE EVENTS LOOMING ON OUR HORIZON IN A TIME WHEN THE VERY BEST OF LEADERSHIP IS BEING DEMANDED BY OUR PEOPLE. THIS IS NO TIME TO RETREAT INTO THE FAMILIAR PATTERN OF MEDIOCRITY THAT HAS CHARACTERISED GOVERNMENTS PAST. THIS IS A TIME FOR BOLD AND RESOLUTE ACTION. OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS NAREP HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE DIRECTION WE ARE HEADED IN AS A COUNTRY. THREE ISSUES IN PARTICULAR HAVE HIGHLIGHTED THE NEED FOR US TO SPEAK OUT AT THIS TIME AND TO OFFER FURTHER DIRECTION TO OUR NATION’S LEADERSHIP:

(1) GENERAL GOVERNANCE CONCERNS; (2) THE RECENT VISIT BY THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL AND THE DISCUSSIONS AROUND HOMOSEXUALITY THAT HIS VISIT HAS RE-IGNITED; AND (3) THE HANDLING OF THE BAROTSELAND QUESTION. IN ADDRESSING THESE ISSUES, WE MUST NOT LOSE SIGHT OF THE REASON THAT PEOPLE VOTED FOR CHANGE IN THE LAST GENERAL ELECTION.

LEST THERE BE SOMEONE IN THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION WHO MIGHT BE LIVING IN A CLOUD OF DOUBT ABOUT WHY THE PF WAS VICTORIOUS AGAINST THE MMD, WE WOULD LIKE TO REMIND THEM THAT WHAT TRANSPIRED WAS NOT REALLY AN ELECTION. IT WAS A REFERENDUM. THE PEOPLE VOTED NO TO THE CONTINUATION OF THE MMD ADMINISTRATION. THEY VOTED NO TO THE MEDIOCRITY AND GREED THAT HAD CHARACTERISED OUR POLITICS. THEY REJECTED THE IDEA THAT A PARTY IN POWER CAN LOOK AFTER ITSELF FIRST AND DENY THE NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE WHOM THEY WERE ELECTED TO SERVE. INDEED THE MMD WERE VOTED OUT OF POWER BECAUSE THEY FORGOT THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY, WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, IT IS INDEED THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA WHO ARE THE TRUE MASTERS AND FOR WHOM EVERY GOVERNMENT SHOULD WORK AND LABOUR. GOVERNANCE SO LET US TURN FIRST TO THE QUESTION OF GOVERNANCE. EVERY LEADERSHIP MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE TO ITS PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE TENURE OF ITS ADMINISTRATION AND NOT ONLY AT THE TIME OF ELECTIONS. THIS IS THE SAME FOR THE PF ADMINISTRATION AS IT WAS FOR THE MMD ADMINISTRATION AND AS IT WILL INDEED BE FOR A NAREP ADMINISTRATION IN THE YEARS TO COME. THE EXPECTATIONS ON THE NEW ADMINISTRATION ARE HIGH BUT THEY ARE NOT UNREASONABLE: JOBS FOR OUR YOUTH; DECENT INFRASTRUCTURE IN OUR COMMUNITIES; EMPOWERMENT FOR OUR LOCAL BUSINESSMEN AND BUSINESSWOMEN; IMPROVED ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTHCARE FOR ALL; STABILITY AND PREDICTABILITY IN OUR GOVERNANCE; A REDUCTION OF CORRUPTION; ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION AND OPPORTUNITY IN EVERY PART OF OUR COUNTRY AND NOT ONLY IN SCATTERED PLACES ALONG THE LINE OF RAIL. THESE EXPECTATIONS ARE FOUNDED ON PROMISES THAT WERE GENEROUSLY HANDED OUT TO A POPULATION THAT WAS TIRED OF LIES AND BROKEN PROMISES – A POPULATION THAT NOW DEMANDS SOLUTIONS TO ADDRESS THE DEEP AND PRESSING NEEDS THAT FAR TOO MANY OF OUR PEOPLE HAVE BEEN FACING FOR FAR TOO LONG. IF NOT HANDLED CAREFULLY, THESE EXPECTATIONS MAY RESULT IN OUR OWN VERSION OF THE ARAB SPRING. THESE EXPECTATIONS WILL NEVER BE FULFILLED BY APPOINTING ENDLESS SERIES OF COMMISSIONS THAT TO DATE HAVE GOBBLED UP NEARLY K4 BILLION KWACHA OF UNBUDGETED EXPENDITURE WHILE WATER AND SANITATION PROBLEMS PERSIST AT TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS THROUGHOUT THE NATION AND MOTHERS IN HIGH DENSITY COMMUNITIES ARE FORCED TO DRAW THEIR DAILY SUPPLIES FROM STAGNANT STREAMS THAT POSE A SERIOUS HEALTH HAZARD. THESE EXPECTATIONS WILL NEVER BE FULFILLED BY THE CONSTANT HIRING, FIRING AND RESHUFFLING OF MINISTERS AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AT SIZEABLE AND UNPLANNED COST TO THE TREASURY. THE PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW: WHEN WILL ALL THIS UNCERTAINTY COME TO AN END? WHEN WILL WE STOP CHANGING DISTRICT COMMISSIONERS? WHEN WILL WE STOP MAKING ADMINISTRATIVE ADJUSTMENTS TO OUR PROVINCES AND DISTRICTS WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING AND FULLY ENGAGING WITH LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS? WHEN WILL THERE BE SOME SORT OF PLAN THAT CAN UNITE OUR NATION AROUND TACKLING THE DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES THAT ARE BEING FACED EACH AND EVERY DAY BY ORDINARY ZAMBIANS THAT JUST WANT TO HAVE A CHANCE FOR ONCE TO ENJOY A DECENT LIFE? WE HAVE REPEATEDLY STATED THAT THE PRESIDENT MUST ENGAGE A STRONG TEAM OF PERSONAL ADVISERS AT STATE HOUSE TO STEER THE THINKING AND PLANNING IN ALL AREAS POLITICAL, LEGAL, ECONOMIC AND SPIRITUAL. AS A PARTY THAT WANTS TO SEE THIS NATION GROW AND DEVELOP INTO THE COUNTRY THAT GOD ALWAYS INTENDED FOR IT TO BE, NAREP DOES NOT WANT TO SEE UNREST IN OUR LAND. BUT WE FIND OURSELVES LIVING IN A DANGEROUS AND DELICATE TIME IN OUR HISTORY: OUR YOUTH ARE STILL MARGINALISED BY THE LACK OF ATTENTION TO THEIR DESPERATE CRY FOR WORK AND DIGNITY; OUR WOMEN STILL FACE THE BURDEN OF BEING THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PILLARS OF OUR COMMUNITIES YET THEY ARE STILL TRAUMATISED BY THE CONTINUING INJUSTICE OF DISCRIMINATION AND ABUSE WHILE OUR GOVERNMENT – THROUGH ITS SILENCE – FLIRTS DANGEROUSLY WITH THE IDEA OF ACCEPTING HOMOSEXUALITY AS BEHAVIOUR WE SHOULD ACTIVELY PROMOTE IN OUR SOCIETY. HOMOSEXUALITY IT IS TO THIS ISSUE OF HOMOSEXUALITY THAT WE NOW TURN. AN ISSUE WHICH, IF NOT HANDLED CAREFULLY, COULD RESULT IN DEEP DIVISIONS WITHIN OUR COUNTRY THAT WOULD MAKE A MOCKERY OF THE SENSE OF UNITY WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN BUILDING UPON FOLLOWING THE VICTORY OF OUR NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM IN LIBREVILLE LAST MONTH. IN ADDRESSING THIS ISSUE, WE MUST MAKE THE CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN PREVENTING VIOLENT ACTS AGAINST THOSE THAT PRACTICE HOMOSEXUALITY AND ACTIVELY PROMOTING HOMOSEXUALITY AS ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR WITHIN A GIVEN SOCIETY. WE SHOULD HATE THE SIN AND NOT THE SINNER AND WE SHOULD NEVER ACCEPT THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS SOMETHING WE CAN COMFORTABLY LIVE WITH. WHILE THE LAW ALLOWS NO ONE THE RIGHT TO TAKE THE LAW INTO THEIR OWN HANDS AND COMMIT VIOLENT ACTS AGAINST THOSE THAT SEEK TO EXHIBIT HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOUR, IT MUST BE STRESSED THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS NEITHER ACCEPTED NOR CONDONED IN THE BROAD ARRAY OF OUR SOCIETY. MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, THE INSISTENCE OF FOREIGN NATIONS ON MAKING AID CONDITIONAL UPON THE ACTIVE PROMOTION OF GAY RIGHTS IS NOTHING OTHER THAN A BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF OUR NATION AND OUR WAY OF LIFE. THERE IS MUCH WE NEED TO CHANGE IN OUR SOCIETY, OF THAT THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT. WE NEED TO REJECT THE PREVALENCE OF DEFILEMENT, ADULTERY, CORRUPTION AND THE ABUSE OF PUBLIC RESOURCES. THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT, WE NEED TO CHALLENGE ONE ANOTHER ON THE LEVELS OF DISHONESTY IN OUR SOCIETY AND IN OUR POLITICS. BUT WE CANNOT BE MADE TO ACCEPT A PRACTICE THAT OFFENDS THE CORE OF OUR SENSITIVITIES UNDER THE PREMISE THAT THIS IS AN ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS. THE FACT THAT THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL DURING HIS RECENT VISIT TO ZAMBIA DID NOT RAISE THIS ISSUE IN HIS ADDRESS TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BUT INSTEAD SHOES TO RAISE IT IN A MORE PRIVATE MEETING WITH OUR FORMER HEAD OF STATE SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT THE RECOGNITION BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OF HOW STRONGLY OUR PEOPLE FEEL ABOUT THIS ISSUE. IT IS IN FACT THE DELIBERATE CONFUSION BY SECTIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY THAT PREVENTING ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST GAY PEOPLE IS THE SAME THING AS PROMOTING THE FREEDOM TO PRACTICE HOMOSEXUALITY. THESE TWO ISSUES ARE NOT THE SAME AND MUST BE TREATED SEPARATELY. HOMOSEXUALITY IS AGAINST THE LAW JUST AS THE PERPETRATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THOSE PRACTICING HOMOSEXUALITY IS AGAINST THE LAW. BUT THESE ARE TWO CLEARLY SEPARATE ISSUES AND SHOULD NOT BE CONFUSED. TO OUR GOVERNMENT, WE OFFER THIS ADVICE: THIS IS NOT TIME FOR APPEASEMENT. TO THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA, WE MUST ACCEPT THIS AS A TIMELY WARNING TO PREPARE OURSELVES TO TAKE THE STEPS WE SHOULD HAVE TAKEN LONG AGO IN REDUCING OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN AID AND IF THERE IS ONE POSITIVE THING THE ISSUE OF HOMOSEXUALITY WILL HELP US TO DO, IT IS TO FIND WAYS OF BEING TRULY INDEPENDENT OF THE KIND OF FOREIGN ASSISTANCE THAT UNDERMINES OUR VALUE SYSTEM.

BAROTSELAND LET ME TURN NOW TO THE QUESTION OF BAROTSELAND. AGAIN, WE FIND OURSELVES IN A SITUATION IN WHICH THE QUESTION OF BAROTSELAND HAS BEEN HANDLED IN A MANNER THAT WILL ONLY SERVE TO MAKE THE ISSUE WORSE RATHER THAN BETTER. NAREP BELIEVES THAT THERE MUST BE A CLEAR ECONOMIC PLAN THAT INCORPORATES RURAL COMMUNITIES AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF OVERALL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND THAT OUR TRADITIONAL LEADERS SHOULD BE CENTRAL TO THE PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF ALL LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES. NAREP HAS SUCH A PLAN AND IT IS ONE THAT CENTRES ZAMBIA’S FUTURE ECONOMIC PROSPERITY ON THE RADICAL DEVELOPMENT OF RURAL COMMUNITIES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. FURTHER, NAREP BELIEVES THAT EACH TRADITIONAL ESTABLISHMENT BRINGS A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE TO OUR COLLECTIVE EXPRESSION AS A NATION. THIS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED. TRADITIONAL AUTHORITIES ARE A RECOGNISED AND NATURAL REFERENCE POINT OF AUTHORITY THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY AND ESPECIALLY IN RURAL COMMUNITIES. BOTH RURAL AND URBAN RESIDENTS HAVE A BASE WITHIN ONE OR OTHER RURAL LOCATION FROM WHICH THEY DERIVE THEIR PRIMARY OUTLOOK AND INTERACTIONS IN SOCIETY. THE RECOGNITION AND RESPECT OF TRADITIONAL LEADERS MUST THEREFORE GO BEYOND CEREMONY. AS THE TRUE CUSTODIANS OF TRADITIONAL VALUES AND NORMS, AND AS RECOGNISED SYMBOLS OF AUTHORITY IN MANY RURAL LOCATIONS, TRADITIONAL LEADERS HAVE A VITAL ROLE TO PLAY IN DEVELOPMENT AND IN ENSURING THAT THE TREND OF GLOBALISATION CHARACTERISING THIS MODERN ERA IS ALIGNED TO THOSE POSITIVE ASPECTS OF OUR HISTORY AND OUR EXPERIENCES THAT MAKES US UNIQUE AS A NATION OF MANY VIBRANT AND TIME HONOURED CULTURES. WE THEREFORE NEED TO NOT ONLY EXAMINE CAREFULLY THE OBLIGATIONS SET OUT IN THE BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT, BUT TO EXTEND ITS SPIRIT AND INTENTION TO ALL AREAS GOVERNED BY TRADITIONAL AUTHORITIES. WE NEED TO WORK WITH LOCAL CHIEFS AND MAKE THEM AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES AS A NATION. THE CHIEFS AND TRADITIONAL ESTABLISHMENTS AT VARIOUS LEVELS WOULD THEREFORE BECOME AN IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY PART OF THE DEVELOPMENT DELIVERY MECHANISM. THIS WILL NOT BE EASY. BUT WITH THE RIGHT NATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND THE REQUISITE WILL AND DETERMINATION FROM ALL STAKEHOLDERS, PROGRESS COULD BE ACHIEVED IN A MANNER THAT COMPLEMENTS RATHER THAN CONTRADICTS THE CURRENT LOCAL GOVERNMENT FRAMEWORK. IT MAY IN FACT PRESENT AN OPPORTUNITY TO FIX A LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM THAT HAS CLEARLY FAILED TO DELIVER LOCAL DEVELOPMENT IN BOTH RURAL AND URBAN AREAS. THE BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT IS A DOCUMENT THAT FORMS AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR HISTORY AND CANNOT SIMPLY BE WISHED AWAY. IT NEVERTHELESS SEEMS TO GENERATE ON THE ONE HAND, FEARS OF CESSATION AMONG THOSE THAT HAVE NO ROOTS IN WESTERN PROVINCE AND ON THE OTHER, ANXIETY AMONG THOSE WITHIN IT THAT FEEL THEY HAVE BEEN IGNORED BY SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATIONS FOR FAR TOO LONG. THESE CONCERNS ARE REAL AND REFLECT AN ANGER AND SENSE OF ABANDONMENT THAT EXISTS IN NEARLY ALL RURAL COMMUNITIES IN ZAMBIA. FOR THIS REASON, WE NEED TO ASSESS THESE CONCERNS AGAINST A CAREFUL APPRAISAL OF WHAT THE BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT WAS INTENDED TO ACHIEVE. WE SHOULD NOT DISMISS THE VOICES THAT CALL UPON US TO RE-EXAMINE OUR PAST; THAT DEMAND THAT WE ASSESS OUR RESPONSIBILITY FOR FULFILLING OUR OBLIGATIONS AND OUR COMMITMENTS. FOR WHAT IS DEMOCRACY IF IT CANNOT BE EXPRESSED THROUGH MATTERS SUCH AS THESE? WHERE IS OUR TOLERANCE IF WE CHOOSE TO BURY THE PAST AND NOT EXAMINE IT AFRESH TO UNDERSTAND THE LESSONS WE SHOULD LEARN FROM OUR FAILURE TO ANALYSE AND ASSESS OUR HISTORICAL COMMITMENTS AS A NATION? WHAT FUTURE IS IN STORE FOR THE NATION IF GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO THOSE WHO OPPOSE IT BY VICTIMISING AND IGNORING THEM? THERE SHOULD REALLY BE LITTLE CONCERN ABOUT ENGAGING IN AN OPEN AND HONEST DEBATE ABOUT THE BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT. THE IDEA BEHIND IT MAY IN FACT OFFER A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE DEVELOPMENT PLANNING MECHANISM FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES THAT COULD BE EXTENDED TO ALL AREAS WHERE TRADITIONAL AUTHORITIES HAVE A MAJOR ROLE TO PLAY. IF HANDLED CORRECTLY, THIS COULD BRING SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT BENEFITS TO THESE COMMUNITIES AND SERVE AS A WAY OF PRESERVING THE POSITIVE ASPECTS OF OUR CULTURES. BECAUSE OF THEIR RECOGNITION AS SYMBOLS OF AUTHORITY IN RURAL LOCATIONS, ALL TRADITIONAL AUTHORITIES SHOULD BE ACCORDED THE OPPORTUNITY OF INVOLVEMENT IN MANAGING THE DEVELOPMENT OF LOCAL COMMUNITIES. THE TERMS OF THE BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT OFFER A USEFUL BASIS FOR COMMENCING A DEBATE ABOUT A VIABLE MEANS OF INCORPORATING CHIEFS AND TRADITIONAL AUTHORITIES INTO THE DEVELOPMENT PLANNING OF OUR LARGE AND SPARSELY POPULATED COUNTRY. WE MUST NOT UNDULY FEAR REKINDLING AND RESTORING AN OLD HOPE – BUT WE MUST DO THIS IN A NEW WAY; WITH BOLD, NEW IDEAS ON HOW THIS WILL DELIVER DEVELOPMENT AND OPPORTUNITY FOR THE MAJORITY. I THANK YOU ALL AND WISH YOU GOD’S EVERLASTING BLESSINGS. ELIAS C CHIPIMO, JR PRESIDENT NATIONAL RESTORATION PARTY

p