The Patriotic Front (PF) government has failed to walk the talk as a listening government, says Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) executive director Wesley Chibamba.
Commenting on the 30 ngwee per day tariff on Internet calls, Chibamba said he did not understand why government had failed to be transparent in the decision-making process on matters of serious public concern.
“The reasons why the PF government does not engage the public to consult before coming up with new taxes or tax reforms are not known to all of us. I mean we don’t know why they don’t do that, but then I think the importance of public consultation cannot be overemphasised. And they are very aware of that, especially when making decisions that are, you know, would affect people very much. They need to consult the people, which decisions you know which decisions these things are going to affect. So, they know about the importance of consultations especially in decision-making. These are some of the things we take about. They need to engage experts; they need to sort of engage the public and then they are given feedback on how some of these things can work. We have seen a lot of policy inconsistencies when it comes to the PF government and how it runs public affairs,” Chibamba told News Diggers! in an interview in Lusaka, Monday.
“Usually, when there is public outcry about something that is when they reverse the decision and sometimes they even carry it with impunity even if the people are opposed to it. I can give you an example of the National Health Insurance Bill. People were totally opposed to that, but then they went ahead and implemented it. So, they are not living to their words. They are not committing to what they say and are failing to live to their words that they are a listening government! So, we are left to wonder why they don’t do a lot of consultation as well. It’s very important especially when it comes to issues that are going to take away money from people’s pockets that people understand why you are making those decisions. They need to understand why they are paying these taxes.”
He feared that government was being insincere in its real motives in the controversial rollout of the 30 ngwee tariffs.
“So, we suspect that there is some insincerity with regards to the new tariffs they are introducing on Internet calls. In essence, when you look at the tariffs and the expression among the people and you think maybe because such calls as WhatsApp are interested in listening to those calls, maybe they are trying to discourage people from making those calls so that they make the traditional calls that they can monitor easily. So, there are a lot of things and speculation around some of these things and government should really come out and clear the air. If you listen to the explanation by [the chief] government spokesperson and Minister of Information, as well as the Minister for Transport and Communications, they don’t really hold water. People are not convinced with their explanations, so they should come out and explain properly,” said Chibamba.