By SIMON MUNTEMBA
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema’s silence on governance breaches by some of his senior government officials has disappointed the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) which have demanded that he takes a position on the leaked audio and corrupt appointments in public companies.
Chapter One Foundation, executive director Linda Kasonde said yesterday that the recent governance breaches by some key figures in the UPND administration have the potential to undermine the country’s human rights record and the rule of law.
The CSOs have asked the President to publicly address the serious allegations and if necessary, disassociate himself and the government from the contents of the leaked audio whose conversation bordered on undermining democracy.
Ms Kasonde in a statement said the CSOs were particularly concerned with the silence of the President regarding the leaked audio that implicated his Political Advisor, Mr Levy Ngoma and Ministry of Home Affairs Administration Permanent Secretary, Mr Josephs Akafumba in a conversation undermining democracy.
She said it was saddening to listen to the contents of the audio which borders on undermining State institutions and the rule of law when during his inaugural speech, President Hichilema committed his government to the promotion of national unity, good governance, and adherence to the rule of law.
Further, she said, we note with concern the appointment of Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Mr Collins Nzovu’s wife, Ms. Shezzipe Nzovu, as Head of Procurement at Zesco without following laid down procedures.
Ms Kasonde it was evident that to fill a vacancy in a public institution, a public advertisement should have been made so that the position is competed for.
This, she said, is a major cause for concern as the President repeatedly stated that he would usher in an era of professionalism, integrity, and good governance and yet what we have so far witnessed is to the contrary.
Ms Kasonde urged President Hichilema to publicly condemn such blatant breaches and call officers involved to order.
She also noted with concern the alarming statements made by Minister of Information and Media, Chushi Kasanda on professionalism in the media when she stated that “media freedom is not absolute as it comes with responsibility on the part of the media which include verifying information before publishing it, balance, objectivity and accuracy.”
Ms Kasonde reminded Ms Kasanda that according to Article 20(2) of the Constitution of Zambia the media remains an effective means of promoting accountability in government, and Journalists play an essential role in upholding the rule of law.
Ms Kasonde said the minister should be more concerned with the revelations in the audio which had the potential to erode good governance and negate the country’s democratic credentials beyond just focusing on the dissemination of the same.
She also said that it was disappointing that Ms Kasanda chose to rely on the provisions of the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act, the very Act that the President, while in the opposition then, pledged to repeal as soon as he was ushered into office.
We note with disappointment, she said, that there has, to date, been no mention of when this restrictive Act will be repealed. We therefore urge the President to immediately put in measures to reverse the worrying trend in the conduct of some of his senior leaders and investigative wings.
Ms Kasonde said people were expecting the President to be decisive and deliver on his promises to bring forth professionalism, integrity, and good governance in the running of the country.
She said the recent arrests of media personnel such as KBN staff were a worrying trend if allowed to be perpetuated, adding that “Our call is for the government to let freedoms of expression and association prevail and relevant checks and balances advanced for the advancement of Zambia’s growing democracy.”