23 January 2014, Lusaka
REFLECTIONS ON THE STATE OF OUR NATION
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the press.
I am grateful that you have taken time to be with us today and present to us this wonderful opportunity to address the nation through you.
The purpose of our Press Conference today, is to highlight a number of challenges our nation is faced with andpossible solutions.
The need for Policy direction
In a normal functioning democracy, the citizenry expect their President to address the nation on the policy direction the nation is expected to take in a given year.
Sadly, ours seems to be a strange kind of democracy. Mr. Sata only addresses the Press to exhibit his comic theatrics or to hire and fire personnel. His Press Conferences are devoid of policy content. He will go down in history as a ‘mute President’ – one that failed to hold a Press Conference on policy matters.
We think that it is unfair and unreasonable for Mr. Sata to castigate his Ministers and MPs for being docile in the past two years the Patriotic Front (PF) have been in power. The Ministers and MPs are merely emulating his ‘mute’ leadership style.
We have reasonable suspicion that Mr. Sata may be constrained to address the nation because of the level of his under achievements and the bankruptcy of PF ideas.
The unpleasant surprise to many is that, though Mr. Sata has given Zambians the ‘silent treatment’, he has had time to travel to New York to address the United Nations. An old wise adage says, ‘charity begins at home’.
The Ninety Days Fallacy
When Mr. Sata was campaigning, he made many grand promises. Encompassing all was his legendary promise of a supersonic turnaround in Zambia’s fortunes within ninety (90) days. This was Mr. Sata’s flagship promise.
One clear distinction about Mr. Sata’s politics is his penchant to over simplify governance matters. The impression he created countrywide was that running a country was as simple as ABC. We hold the view that running a country is a complex matter, a very serious undertaking and not a game.
Today more than 1,140 days away from the campaign, all the PF promises that once lifted the hopes and aspirations of our people have now been broken. Clearly, Mr. Sata used his election pledges as poisonous bait.
Other than for reasons of populism and expediency, it is difficult to understand why Mr. Sata invested heavily in cheating the masses. Today, reality has caught up with Mr. Sata and the promises he made have come back to haunt him.
Zambians have come to the sad realization that Mr. Sata is a master at disappointing, the citizenry. It has now dawned on many that the so called man of action is actually a man of lies.
UPND believes that political leaders ought to have moral principles and have to be able to harmonise their words with actions. Mr. Sata’s habitual U-turns are beginning to make all of us wonder whether the term integrity means anything to him.
The last two years have taught us that, Mr. Sata is a shameless apostle of lies and as such he holds no moral right to make any more new promises until he fulfills the old ones.
Elections are the cornerstone of any democratic establishment. By means of elections a democratic society is able to freely choose its leaders. It therefore follows that stakeholders in an election must have confidence in the entire electoral process.
Printing of ballots abroad has always been a thorny electoral issue in Zambia. We expected Mr. Sata to show leadership during his first year in government by prioritizing on the rehabilitation and upgrading of Government Printers.
During his address to Parliament on 14 October, 2011, Mr. Sata told the nation that the PF government was committed to ensuring that all ballots for all future elections were going to be printed locally. Earlier, Mr. Sata promised the nation that the by-election ballots for Nakonde, Chongwe and Magoye were the last to be printed outside the nation.
Two years down the line, ballots are still being printed outside the country and we have noted with sadness that there is no commitment whatsoever being shown by government to end this practice. To us in the UPND, this is another case of bufi.
Clearly Mr. Sata and his PF are suffering from a serious bout of procrastination. Lack of focus to achieve set goals has reduced them into a ‘chipante pante’ government.
It must not be forgotten that during his days in the opposition, Mr. Sata was a loud critic of ballots being printed outside the country. Today we have come to understand that all that criticism was hypocrisy.
We believe that a significant investment in Government Printers will instill confidence in the electoral process by eliminating suspicions of electoral malpractice. The investment will reduce government expenditure and provide another source for revenue collection.
Further, we would like to register our utter disgust at the unbridled lust for power that the PF is openly exhibiting by directly or indirectly creating unnecessary and expensive by-elections.
Zambians should not be deceived that the number of PF petitions before the courts of law are an expression of PF’s desire to fight electoral malpractices. PF is the number one culprit when it comes to electoral malpractice and corruption in general.
A few examples will help to prove our allegation.
• In 2012, PF revoked the candidature of Darius Mumba who defected to the PF from the MMD after his Chama North seat was nullified on account of corruption. The argument PF advanced was that Mr. Mumba could not hold public office because he was corrupt. Today the same Darius Mumba has been appointed to save as a public officer by the PF in a foreign mission. Typical don’t kubeba!
• In 2011, the PF alleged that Hon Sylvia Masebo had lost election to Japhen Mwakalombe because of corruption. Events that unfolded later, where that Mr. Mwakalombe was corruptly forced to resign his seat and then appointed to be Ambassador to Mozambique.
• Mr. Sata’s PF petitioned Hon Josephine Limata, Robert Taundi and Richard Taima’s election and proved their allegation at the high court. The surprising thing is that Mr. Sata has appointed all three (3) to be his Ministers. What a way to fight corruption.
Others that PF petitioned that ended up being Ministers include Hon Gabriel Namulambe, Hon Stephen Masumba, Hon Keith Mukata, Hon Patrick Ngoma and the list is endless.
As evidence shows, the PF petitions before the courts have nothing to do with fighting electoral corruption. They are a means to alter the numbers in parliament so as to give the PF the two thirds needed to manipulate the current constitution making process.
2 Socio-Economic Affairs
The PF battle cry in the 2011 tri-partite elections was more money in the pockets and more jobs. Many of our people expected Mr. Sata’s government to give them relief by effectively dealing with the problem of unemployment.
More than two years down the line, it is evidently clear that Mr. Sata is clueless on how to demolish the ever growing mountain of unemployment before us. This has created a huge crisis among our people.
The over 300,000 jobs that Mr. Sata claims to have created are fake and unreal like the K3.1 trillion fake money MMD is alledged to have printed by Hon Robert Sichinga.
If Mr. Sata has created thousands of jobs, why are the streets in the central business district of Lusaka filled up with unemployed youths everyday? If Mr. Sata has created thousands of jobs, why has the number of those contributing to Pay As You Earn reduced by 10% in the last year? You can fool some people sometimes, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
A quick review of how we have regressed as a country will help to deliver our point. When Mr. Sata took over government, the price of a 25 Kg bag of Mealie Meal was selling at K38. Today, the same bag is selling around K75, though there are attempts to bring the price down through dictatorial means of price control. Our view is that prices should come down because of effective economic leadership and not by dictatorial decrees.
When Mr. Sata took over government, the dollar was selling at K4.6, today the same dollar is selling at K5.5. Fuel, transport costs, the price of cement, electricity and water costs have gone up and generally, the cost of living has gone up since Mr. Sata started mismanaging the economy.
Typical of a man lacking economic management skills, Mr. Sata is on record having created districts without a budget. More recently, he has made pronouncements of recreating the one party parastatal called Indeco without budgetary allocation. Zambia’s debt level is ever going up. The Bank of Zambia (BOZ) reserves left by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) have been squandered. Clearly, the man in State House lacks the necessary skill set to move this country forward.
I Know that for many Zambians right now, the economy is the concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you have not been personally affected by the failed ninety days experiment, you probably know someone who has – a friend, neighbor or a member of your family. You do not need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in a crisis, because you live it everyday. It is the worry you work up with and the source of sleepless nights. It is the jobs youths thought they would have but now are non existent. The impact of Mr. Sata’s failed economic policies is real and everywhere.
It is becoming clear to many Zambians that Mr. Sata is leading the country to the no money, no jobs zone. We are lost in the middle of a ‘job crisis’ forest. No employment is being created, and existing jobs are being lost. By any rational measure, this is a clear sign of an economy headed in a wrong direction.
Promising jobs during a campaign and failing to create them while in government is tantamount to obtaining electoral victory by false pretences.
One of the things UPND is offering to the nation is a leadership that will lead us out of the job crisis. A leadership that will not take us back to the failed policies of the past that created this crisis in the first place.
3 Education Development
In the UPND, we believe that education is a right and not a privilege. We also believe that education is a vehicle that can transport one from the lower strata of society to the highest strata.
Education is a great equalizer and that is why we believe government should make a significant investment in education and give it to the masses free of charge from Grade 1 to University (1st degree).
We are deeply concerned, that Mr. Sata has u-turned on his pronouncement of free education from Grade 1 to Grade 12. During his tour of Mansa, he confessed that he lacked the necessary skills to provide quality education, free of charge to the masses despite Zambia being a country highly endowed with natural resources. This is sad as many pupils will fail to progress with their education on account of these fees.
We demand that Mr. Sata begins to show political will on this matter by ensuring that all school fees at government schools are waived without any further delay.
Allow me at this juncture to quote from Mr. Sata’s inaugural speech to Parliament – “As evidence of my government’s commitment in this regard, Chalimbana College and Palabana will be converted into fully fledged Universities of International standards. The Honourable Minister of Education must ensure that this programme is completed within eighteen (18) months.”
More than (24) months have come and gone and not even a slasher has been moved to site to begin the transformation of Chalimbana and Palabana to University status.
The sad thing for Palabana College is that after Mr. Sata went to lay the foundation stone, his Ministers and top PF officials went ahead and shared the Palabana College land. UPND is busy compiling evidence on this matter which will soon be submitted to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
We are also aware that nothing is being done to address the issue of improving the quality and quantity of qualified manpower at these two institutions. We also know that the colleges are still enrolling Diploma students.
With this clear failure to transform existing institutions into universities of international repute, we are shocked that Mr. Sata has gone on to promise to build from scratch, a University, a Teacher Training College and a Trades School in Luapula Province. Many times we have wondered as to when Mr. Sata’s crusade of lies will come to an end.