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ABOUT CHECKS AND BALANCES: THE ROLE OF ACTIVISTS

ABOUT CHECKS AND BALANCES: THE ROLE OF ACTIVISTS

Dear Editor,

IN the past five years or so during my time in opposition against the PF administration, l had the opportunity to meet and rub shoulders with many so-called civil society activists as well as democracy and good-governance activists.

One thing that brought us together was our opposition to the PF administration. We even undertook certain activities together with some of them, such as protesting at Parliament against PF corruption, during presentation of the national budget.

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Of course in our respective capacities, I as an opposition leader and them as activists.

However along the way, l began to wonder whether these were independent activists who just wanted democracy and good governance for the county, from the goodness of their hearts, or they were UPND cadres disguising themselves as activists.

My suspicions began to slowly get confirmed during instances that the UPND did exactly what we used to condemn PF for, such as political violence.

During those instances, l would unequivocally condemn UPND but to my surprise, my colleagues in the struggle would defend them, giving all sorts of flimsy excuses such as “it’s probably not them” or “they were infiltrated by PF.”

Fast forward to this day, UPND is now in power and Mr Hakainde Hichilema is no longer that pitiful opposition leader. He now has the instruments of power and is Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces.

And while l have continued to offer checks and balances to the new Government with the same consistency and determination that we had during the PF administration, my activist colleagues are not just turning a blind eye to the wrongs being committed under the new administration, but they are also in the forefront condemning our checks and balances.

To a large extent, this confirms my earlier suspicions that these were not independent civil society activists who advocated for democracy and good governance from the goodness of their hearts, no.

These are bonafide cadres of the UPND. They are politicians who are possibly now looking for rewards from the new Government, and therefore cannot afford to speak against President Hichilema even if he does something wrong.

These fake activists are now even peddling a narrative that the reason why we are very active in providing checks and balances is because President Hichilema has given us freedom of expression.

That is absolute nonsense. President Hichilema has no power or authority to give anyone the freedom of expression. We draw our freedom of expression from the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia, specifically articles 20 and 21, and not from any individual, regardless of whether that individual is a President.

We enjoy these freedoms not as a favour from President Hichilema but because we are bonafide citizens of this republic.

The moment that we were born, the Constitution gave us these freedoms and liberties, and we shall fight to death to protect them.

Anyone wanting to take away our constitutionally given freedoms and liberties must be willing to fight to death too. We fought for these freedoms and liberties under the PF administration, in the streets, in boardrooms, in courtrooms and at our homes.

We shall not be shy to do the same under the UPND administration. Let no man or woman mistake the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy and think they are a favour given to us by the current administration.

I further want to put it on record that the checks and balances that we provide are objective and above board.

The only reason why people think we are outspoken is because we are the only ones that are speaking out against the wrongs of the UPND administration, whereas during the PF administration, there were many people speaking against the wrongs of that time and our voice might have been overshadowed.

But the intensity and frequency of our checks and balances has remained the same over the past five years.

The challenge we have at the moment is that half of the people are unable to speak because they are expecting a “ka something” from President Hichilema, while the other half are afraid of being investigated for the wrongs that they committed during the PF administration.

Those of us who do not have any luggage are very few, and that imposes an enormous responsibility on us to look out for the interests of the nation, and we are doing exactly that.

The good citizens of this nation can be rest assured that the responsibility is in good hands. We are equal to the task, and no threats, whether verbal or physical can deter us.

I actually never thought a day would come in this country when half of the cabinet that the President appoints is scandal-ridden and yet no one is voicing a concern about it. And those of us who do voice out a concern are ostracised.

I never thought a day would come when a President would resist to declare his assets and people would defend such a constitutional transgression with excuses such as “he is a rich man, he has come to work and not to steal.” Such naivety by our people.

My plea to the good citizens of this nation is that let us consistently hold our leaders accountable, regardless of whether we like them or we don’t. Let us point out a wrong when we see it. Let us not defend mediocrity.

Even the bad government that the PF gave us did not materialise from nowhere, it was created by people that supported nonsense. If you support nonsense today, you’re contributing to the creation of a bad government. Be wise.

SEAN TEMBO,

PeP President.

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