Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) says the Patriotic Front is the most intolerant party the country has ever seen since the reintroduction of multi-party politics.
On Friday, PF, through its Lusaka youth chairman Kennedy Kamba, castigated TIZ equating the civil society organisation to a public relations wing of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).
“A few days ago, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) Executive Director Wesley Chibamba issued a childish statement that had the UPND written all over it. Zambians remember the TIZ of late Professor Alfred Chanda and compare it with what has become of the organization. TIZ has failed to advise Opposition UPND and its leader Hakainde Hichilema that Zambia has a duly-elected President. It has failed to guide UPND that is style of politics agitating for lawlessness and anarchy, confirmed by a spate of fires is criminalised under Zambian laws. Yet TIZ was quick to answer to a statement directed at the UPND in the most irresponsible manner. At the very least, TIZ should have provided a counterview. We are therefore left wondering whether we missed the memo, when did TIZ become a PR wing for the UPND?” Kamba asked.
“While as a Party we continue to promote a free political dispensation where people and various organizations are free to responsibly express their political opinions, Zambians have however noticed the growing trend in the number of NGO’s which are slowly beginning to operate like political parties. It is only logical for members of the public to suspect that some NGO’s are in fact conduits through which enemies of Zambia have been funding misguided political elements and foreign agendas.
He challenged TIZ officials to officially join the “political battleground”.
“Non-Governmental Organizations should take a non-partisan stand so that the various political players can appreciate their observations on the political scene. If an NGO takes a hard-line bias, as in the case of TIZ, that NGO losses its essence and should be considered as hostile political opponent which will get political responses. It is sad to note that while the TIZ of Goodwell Lungu focussed on the core mandate – governance and corruption, the TIZ of Lee Habasonda and Wesley Chibamba cherishes playing partisan politics and we welcome them to the political battleground,” stated Kamba.
“Both Habasonda and Chibamba are UPND sympathizers abusing a noble platform to champion a known political agenda. The duo is clearly making and finishing TIZ to be a political organisation different from the professional TIZ we have known in the past. It’s unacceptable that TIZ should fall for political regionalism. This is a clarion call for TIZ to rescue the organization before it can suffer the damage FODEP suffered under MacDonald Chipenzi.”
Kamba told TIZ to instead advise the UPND to recognize President Edgar Lungu.
But in a statement today, Chibamba observed that the PF was the most intolerant party the country had seen since the reintroduction of multi party politics.
“The PF needs to learn to take advice and constructive criticism. That is what happens in a democratic dispensation. We find it interesting that when we say something that praises the PF, TIZ is labelled to be PF. When we say something that they are not comfortable with, we are labeled to be UPND. This is very unfortunate, as TIZ is an apolitical organization. In striving to promote good governance, we are alive to the fact that some things we may say maybe uncomfortable for any ruling party. But we will not neglect our responsibilities simply because our statements will make people uncomfortable,” Chibamba stated.
“This is the most politically intolerant government we have seen since the reintroduction of multi-party politics. They are clamping down democratic space. Anyone who says something they are uncomfortable with is attacked. That is not how democracy works.”
Chibamba said he was shocked that simple advice to the PF was taken with venom and hostility.
“TIZ is a professional organization whose responsibility among others, is to provide checks and balances to the government. It is rather shocking that simple advice can be taken with such venom and hostility as to warrant direct attacks on the organization and its leadership. We will not be drawn into a media brawl with the Mr Kaamba or the PF,” Chibamba said.
“TIZ has desisted from issuing statements on the arrest of the opposition leader, TIZ has indeed desisted from making political comments. The comment that has angered the PF provincial youth chairperson was advice for the PF to use someone who is an authority in interpreting legal issues when making statements bordering on the subject.”
He said TIZ would not be silenced by political party cadres.
“We would like to remind the PF that this is still a democratic state where freedom of expression is a right that has to be enjoyed and protected as such. TIZ will continue with its work of promoting good governance, which entails respect for the rule of law, democracy, protection of human rights, transparency, accountability, justice and equality among others,” said Chibamba.
“So when there is an exhibit of poor governance by virtue of abrogating any of these good governance principles, TIZ will be there to criticize and provide guidance. TIZ will not be silenced by political party cadres.”