Thank you for coming. I request we all stand to observe a minute of silence in memory of the muvi reporter, Pricilla Pakati who died while on duty.
Good morning everyone. To day i wish to share with you a question that has been on my mind for a while now and that is: is our democracy working?
Yesterday, the supreme court upheld the ruling of the high court determining my right to participate in the petauke by-elections subject to meeting the basic requirements. This judgement comes almost after two years since the petauke central seat was nullified by the supreme court in june 2013. This was after i won the case in the high court. I won’t delve into the nullification of my seat but just to emphasise that i had the choice for judicial review of the supreme court ruling. However, i felt that, that route would deny the petauke people representation for a longer period of time. If you recall the ecz did not waste time in announcing the dates for the nomination and election in august and september respectively of 2013.
I am happy that finally the supreme court has ruled in my favour. Let me take this opportunity to thank the people of petauke whose love and support i value greatly. They have stood with me these past 2 years. That is why it was a humbling experience to see the many people that turned out to vote for president edgar lungu at my request to support him. I do not take that confidence in me for granted at all.
I also thank the many church leaders, ngos, youths, friends, i hold dear those who follow me too on my face book, my media friends all of you here and most of all my family whose unwavering support i enjoyed these last two years. My gratitude goes to my lawers silwamba jalasi and linyama legal practitioners whose advice and professional work is the reason i am here to day. I am humbled by the bench for passing a judgement that sets a precedence for the future to avoid unnecessary abuse of the judicial system.
I ask the question again, is our democracy working or has it failed when petauke and other constituencies can be denied representation in parliament for almost two years. Remember that our democracy is based on parliamentary representation. I wish to ask further that how will the people of petauke find recourse in such circumstances. Who is responsible for their predicament?
This judgement and rightly so, was passed and the state was condemned to bear the costs for both the high court and supreme court proceedings. These costs will be drawn from your hard earned salaries as high taxes. Who is to blame for your taxes being diverted to pay legal costs? This has been the case with all the unprecedented by-election expenses which have left our country almost bankrupt. Clearly, if common sense and common decency had prevailed these costs would have been avoided and would have been channeled to more pressing needs such as education, health and empowering the youth. But alas.
This is why i am delighted to note that the supreme court has guided politicians not to use courts for political expediency when it observed that my matter had gone back and forth, 4 times, in the courts.
And going forward?
My silence in the last three months has been a time for much reflection on my political career and the future of my country Zambia. I am saddened, like most of you that after 24 years of multiparty democracy and 50 years of independence most parts of Zambia are still lacking basic provisions such as water and electricity. Most of our youths have turned to alcohol and promiscuity due to unemployment and failure by families to support them.
A few days ago i learned that our very young, aged 1-15 are in grave danger of sexual abuse, hiv infection, teenage pregnancies and marriages. The loopholes in legislation coupled with culture practices and social stigmas have made it difficult to address these challenges. It is a fight for all of us especially families church media and law makers.
Never before, at least in my adult life, have i seen citizens liberties infringed upon as in the last 3 years. The panga carrying xenophobic attackers in south africa shock us, but i believe they also remind us of the path our country almost took, with panga carrying cadres on the streets of lusaka and in various by- elections. In the 15 years i have been in petauke i witnessed for the first time in 2013 riot clad police in villages attempting to disrupt meetings of peaceful, unarmed citizens. We have to learn to be more tolerant and accept that criticism, especially strong criticism must be expected when one is dealing with people issues. However, that is not to say criticism equals insults
The corruption fight, really?
Today, the fight against corruption means nothing to anyone and is just used as a tool to persecute perceived political opponents. Am convinced that actual corrupt people are walking freely while the relevant institutions like acc and dec targets mostly politicians and other perceived enemies of the party in government. How is it that those who felt clean a few years ago while pointing fingers at their friends are today themselves at the centre of alleged corruption scandals. There is something wrong in our country when corruption cases which are not adequately investigated are rushed through the courts to embarrass opponents without considering the costs to tax payers at the expense of development. I believe this calls for a tribunal to determine how much government spends on allowances on flawed investigations so that those who truly abuse their authority, in the guise of fighting corruption can be brought to book.
The will of the people?
Politics must be purely a process were ideas compete in the voters landscape. Ultimately, the people must give and take back power as they see it fit. Power truely belongs to the people a lesson we have all learnt very well in zambia and so i wonder why we must behave as if we will be in government in perpetuity. To be in a position of authority must mean first and foremost to solve peoples problems where we can. That calls for speedy government procedures and systems. Citizens must demand good services and there must be avenues for complaint be it in public or private sector. And complaints must be dealt with swiftly. A good example are election petition.
Technology good but!
Let me turn to another matter. In our country today, every one is guilty in the court of public perception propelled by blogs and various media houses. It is a circus as goal posts keep shifting depending on who is in government. Those who were innocent or guilty yesterday are perceived otherwise today, based on which paper or blog has shifted camp. Technology is a good thing, but we must not allow it to be used to degrade each other nor destroy our national values. Nothing good will come out of that process. We all have a chance to start afresh and teach the younger generation common decency and our national christian values.
When are the elections?
I believe there must be a time for electioneering and after voting a time for developmental politics. We can’t vote a government, any government, into office today and want it out in 2 months time. We have to exercise patience and use our vote wisely at the next election. Each president deserves room to settle and address national matters. As the old adage says, let’s do to others as we wish them to do unto us. It is why i do not subscribe to boycotting of national events. Leadership must never be about the blame game but engagement always.
The future of Zambia
Latest cso statistics show that 90% of Zambians are like you and i, below 45 years old. This demographic of children, the youth and young adults is the future of Zambia. It has to be harnessed to be healthy, educated and economically productive. I believe, with all it’s short comings, our democratic record must be leveraged to see massive investment in health and education personnel and in health and education infrastructure. A healthy and educated Zambia is a must to take ourselves out of low- middle income group towards prosperity.
We have been talking about empowering our people for so long, that our young people, 45 and below, feel they are only receiving the crumbs. Big business is only for a few. This has to end. How is it that in Zambia foreigners and non-black Zambians all find it easy to do business with no corruption tags. People in petauke, kasama, mansa, copperbelt, kabwe, solwezi, mongu, mpika and even in kalomo want to be rich too. We can’t glorify poverty because sharing it is very sad indeed. Our rural areas need support after the bad rains this year with subsidised fertiliser and seed in the short term and dams and diversification and industry in the longterm. That is how jobs will be created for many youths in rural areas. I was happy to learn of plans by government calling for erection of a milling plant in petauke. My hope is that a chance will be given to Zambians.
I want to propose that we narrow-in empowerment, first, to mean indigenous empowerment. Otherwise xenophobic attacks may also be our future story. This can be avoided if we address the root problem now. Wealth must be spread across the board for real jobs to be created. Tenders especially government tenders and investment must not be a preserve for a few people but effort must be made to assist black Zambians through banks and other institutions to participate and create wealth. When will zambians own big malls and mines in their own country.
Has our democracy failed?
Democracy cannot just be about elections but must be seen to be working beyond the election day. We must strive to strengthen democratic institutions, procedures and systems such that they can respond to national needs. Voters want to have confidence in people elected to authority. Zambians now expect that politicians will not only be academically competent but have the necessary experience to deal with matters of government. This is much more so at presidential level. There is no business or institution like government. Team work and not a me and myself attitude is what usually works best in my opinion.
The january election revealed that political parties in Zambia are very porous and political support can move across party lines. But ultimately power rests with the people who vote. I cal upon each one of you to take your vote seriously and register to vote this august in readiness for 2016 general elections.
My political career.
After much reflection, i have decided to stand again in Petauke. My conviction is that governance does well when ever more women and the youth participate too. We have to create an atmosphere where women and the youth do not fear politics because of insults, persecution and simple mindedness by those who want power only for them selves. I know the period remaining is short but i owe it to the people of petauke who have always made me feel loved. I beat all the men last time, i expect to do again.
There is no greater honour than serving people who have thrust confidence upon you by electing you to serve them. No greater honour indeed.
The real question!
As far as am aware, no national secretary of any political party, not even allegedly my own, the mmd, has called to request me to stand on their ticket. I am consulting widely but ultimately it is the people of petauke who will decide which platform i use whether as an independent candidate or not. I will advise at the right time.
All i can assure you now is that i will stand. And am looking to work with politicians of like minds, who value that political office is purely through the peoples power. I want to join men and women who are not afraid to make tough decisions and move our country forward. I want to be with a party that has room to improve intra-party democracy and will emphasise discipline. I look forward to working with a group of politicians especially youthful men and women who want to start a new movement, an agenda to champion one Zambia one nation and prosperity for all.
But most of all i wish to work with people who are willing to sit down and revise plans to respond to national needs. A new political thinking is needed and it is not impossible.
Let me end by saying that in all the trials and tribulations, i have been grateful to my god.
SOURCE : Dora Siliya