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Posted May 08, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this morning’s press conference. Yesterday, the nation laid to rest 18 innocent people who died in yet another road traffic accident when the minibus they were travelling in collided with a truck along the Kabwe road. We offer our sincere condolences to the bereaved families and pray for those that are still recovering from their injuries. This incident again reminds us of our frailty as human beings. The Bible points out that our lives are but a mist. None of us knows when our turn will come to answer the Lord’s call. As a son who lost a mother in a road accident in 2008, I know the pain that the families of the victims of this tragic event will be going through. These avoidable deaths should urge us not towards the edge of despair, but towards an appreciation of the responsibilities we bear as citizens of a nation that claims to follow Christ. A nation that has been the envy of the continent in the way it has managed transition of power from one regime to another. A nation blessed with abundance in land, water, natural resources, and indeed our most treasured and greatest resource – our people.

We have so much and yet so many live in despair. We have an amazing chance to make great strides in our development and yet we continuously seek the path that leads to mediocrity and neglect. Abraham Lincoln, that famous son of America, once said:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for the people what needs to be done but which they cannot by individual effort do at all or do so well for themselves”.

Our direction as a nation is as much dependent on what the government can be expected to do for us as it is on what we can be expected to do for ourselves. Although many may not yet fully realise it, Zambia is facing a political, social and economic crisis. We have no official roadmap for a constitution-making process that has gobbled billions of rebased kwacha, our second highest ranked Government official stands accused of inappropriate and undiplomatic language against our biggest trading partner in Africa, public order laws continue to be applied selectively to silence and intimidate the Opposition, laws continue to be amended and altered without adequate stakeholder consultation creating uncertainty and deterring inward and external investment, the energy crisis continues unabated with load-shedding now a standard feature in the majority of the homes of those lucky enough to have electricity, stories of untold misery in health institutions around the country continue to shape the lives of ordinary citizens, traffic accidents claiming multiple lives seem now to occur with greater regularity than ever before. And all the while, our Government is playing with people’s lives by promoting unnecessary expenditure through avoidable by-elections. To make matters worse, our Government has taken the radical step of removing the subsidy on fuel without taking any responsible steps to contain the enormous and unnecessary expenditure and abuse of taxpayer resources that is taking place every day at the expense of our development.

While there may indeed be reasons for the removal of the subsidy on our fuel, we question the legitimacy of this action by the PF administration when nothing is being done to reduce the enormous waste of resources that continues to drain funds that would be better spent on development. Why remove the subsidy before putting your expenditure priorities in the right order? Why are you still accepting defections from the Opposition in Parliament when you know this will put a strain on our national finances? We ask those members of parliament from Solwezi East and Feira that have abandoned the parties on whose tickets they were elected to examine their consciences. We ask them to think long and hard about setting an example of selfless leadership. Mr. Taima, Mr. Ngoma: you and I are supposed to represent a new generation of thinkers. You and I both know you were not elected to defect. You and I know that you were elected to serve your constituents; to ensure that the underprivileged in the areas you campaigned so hard in, could have a chance at a decent life. Each of you comes from a constituency in which many have to walk miles to seek medical attention, where our men, women and youth have to spend backbreaking hours scratching the land to make a living.

Misery upon misery has been piled upon the poor and underprivileged in our land and while politicians continue to bicker and fight, their problems only become worse. We urge the PF administration to get its house in order and stop treating their development responsibility as a political weapon. Every area has the right to development and not just areas with a PF member of parliament.

We must reclaim our country and redeem it from the circus it is fast becoming. Only yesterday, another MMD Member of Parliament resigned. We are all responsible for taking such action as is necessary to make our nation better in each of our communities. We urge every concerned Zambian to get involved now in shaping the future of Zambia. Not tomorrow, not even this afternoon or this evening but now. Let us not be responsible for the failure of our state. Let us not allow the PF administration the freedom to apply resources as they deem fit against the wishes of the people.

My urgent appeal goes directly to our Republican President. We urge you President Sata and your Patriotic Front administration to live up to your Party name and act patriotic. If Mr. Taima’s seat has not yet been declared vacant by the Speaker of the National Assembly, reach out to the Opposition in Parliament to rescind this decision. Reject any further attempts to join your ranks through unnecessary by-elections. This means not allowing Mr. Justin Chishiba who is intending to resign from the MMD to cause yet another waste of resources meant for development. Have a heart for the people on whose backs you rode to power and on whose minds you planted your promises. Demonstrate that you are as committed to reducing unnecessary government expenditure as you are to saving money by removing the fuel subsidy. You can start by reducing the bloated cabinet you promised to fight while you were in Opposition. Our country cannot afford the cost and inefficiency of having 41 deputy ministers with an average of 2 deputy ministers per ministry, costing us billions in salaries, remuneration and support costs every month. Why would the Ministry of Agriculture, Commerce , Home Affairs, Local Government and Housing, Transport, Works, Supply and Communication each need 3 deputy ministers?

For the sake of our politics, for the sake of our people and for the sake of posterity – our future generations, we urge you to refrain from ruining our future.

My final appeal goes to every Zambian that truly cares for this country. Get involved now. Make a difference. Join our effort to restore our nation to the place that God always intended for it to be.

I thank you and may God’s grace be with you all.


5 May 2013