NEW HERITAGE PARTY – PRESS STATEMENT ON THE SPEECH BY PRESIDENT HAKAINDE HICHILEMA ON THE OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.
Friday, 9th September 2022
The New Heritage Party, wishes to join His Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema in remembering and honouring our dear departed members of Parliament and especially the late Fourth Republican President, His Excellency Mr. Rupiah Bwezani Banda. It is indeed fitting that the late President not only be remembered but be properly honoured with an appropriate honour, befitting such a gallant son of Zambia, who in President Hichilema’s own words had served this country with distinction. Our proposal is that RB as he was fondly called be given the Order of the Zambian Eagle First Division.
We further wish to commend President Hichilema and the New Dawn government for paying attention to the social sectors in the speech, especially government’s plans to rid our cities and towns of the so called street Kids. It is a big shame that in an African country, we can be talking of street kids, as if we have taken leave of our culture of the extended family where we have no orphans in the classical sense of the word. Every child deserves to be sheltered and educated. If we can have shelters for orphaned animals,such as the Chimfunshi sunctuary for Chimpanzees, and dog shelters for dogs what more of a human child?
The plans for the review and reform of the Decentralization policy especially as it pertains to the devolution of responsibility over development projects and final authority over the finances and approvals is a welcome initiative. We would like to see the immediate transfer of this authority from the Minister of Local Government to the people in the constituencies and wards. In our view, the current situation where the Minister still reserves the power to approve which projects should be undertaken by the locals is a mockery of the concept of devolution, as it is like government giving with the right hand and taking back with the left hand.
In the same vein we would like to challenge the President and the New Dawn Government to walk the talk regarding their plan to put in place an equitable Land policy. This policy pronouncement will ring hollow if the council and other public service officials who were involved in the illegal land allocation to the people of Kasompe in Chingola are not arrested immediately and made to compansate those poor suffering citizens whose homes were so inhumanely destroyed. The same punitive actions should follow all other corrupt officials involved in other land scandals including the infamous Forest 27 in Lusaka.
The policy on youth employment and empowerment through agriculture is commendable. There is very little detail available, however, on government mechanisms to support this sector, especially to do with domestic and foreign markets. We recently had a sad situation where the National Union of Farmers were lamenting lack of market for tomatoes and the same is true for so many other agricultural produce. For example, what has happened to the much touted Saudi Goat export deal which was supposed to benefit our small livestock sector in which most of our rural people depend? It is not enough to make good, sweet sounding pronouncement and promises which have not been adequately thought through and where there is no real intention of being fulfilled. This government has so quickly earned itself a bad name of being big on promises and very little on fulfilling them, they now have an opportunity to change this negative perception by delivering on the lofty words that the President so eloquently delivered in his speech to Parliament today.
Concerning good governance issues, again the President made very important policy intentions, including the long promised repeal and replacement of the discredited colonial Public Order Act, the repeal of anti- democratic Defamation of The President law and a general review of the penal code. This is a very bold and progressive move by the government, but we would like to remind this new government that this is nothing new, because previous administrations have promised similar things in the past only to renege on them after finding the same bad laws expedient for their stay in power.
The New dawn government has continued to put it’s hope in foreigners and foreign investors to salvage our dire economic situation. On top of this, the major foreign exchange earners in mining are being subsided by we, the ordinary Zambians at house hold level who are being heavily taxed, on all earnings including the meager salaries, rentals, sales at the markets etc. In contrast, the big mining foreign companies which use most of the energy are being given golden handshakes, with tax rebates and other sweeteners all at the expense of poor Zambians, to the effect that even the little respite that the social safety net programmes would provide are rendered void and of little help to the vulnerable.
Zambia’s development resides in it’s constituent parts, who are the Zambian people themselves, the measures that this government is taking in the economy in this regard are a short term, bandaid measure, sure to only enrich the foreigners, for whom the IMF is just the ” enforcer” in much the same way crooked kaloba money lenders send thugs and bailiffs to collect money and other items owed to them.
Regarding our foreign policy, the President referred to Zambia as ‘Peace makers’. It is well and good to pronounce ourselves as such, but this government is well advised in future to avoid blunders like inviting foreign military entities on our soil without the express approval of the citizens, and avoid voting the way they have done at the UN on the War in Ukraine where we clearly sided with one of parties. We need to maintain our nonalignment in foreign policy. In addition, but more importantly, we need to strengthen our bilateral ties with our immediate neighbors, and with the AU, demonstrated in our pan- africanist voting pattern at all fora.
As for the so called bailout, from the IMF, jury is still out until the full text of the conditionalities is made public.