YALI president Andrew Ntewewe has charged that CSOs asking Zambians to rise against the PF government should come out in the open and join the opposition UPND rather than lying to the public that they are non partisan.
And Ntewewe says YALI will not unite with other Civil Society Organisations but will continue working independently because they don’t agree with the agenda of other organisations.
But SACCORD executive director Boniface Chembe says there is need for the civil society to unite, adding that his organisation was willing to take part in any activities of national interest and benefit to Zambians.
Recently, Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Emmanuel Chikoya urged Civil Society Organisations to unite and work together in pursuit for justice.
Father Chikoya further said it was regrettable that some CSOs had been bought off by the powers that be and could not speak out on the injustices going on in Zambia.
However, Ntewewe charged it was Fr Chikoya who had been bought off, adding that YALI would not work with other CSOs that were serving personal interests.
“If he thinks that other civil societies have been bought, it’s him who has been bought. It seems they don’t want to work with us because the issue is, in so far as we are concerned we can only work with organisations and civil societies and citizens in general when we are moving on one path. The English adage which says ‘birds of the same feathers flock together’ is correct. If their interests are to achieve personal agendas then they are not birds of the same feathers with us. For us our positions are moved by principle and when we stand on a matter we will go with it to our graves. That’s a fundamental aspect,” he said.
“When we were demanding for a bill of rights, where was father Chikoya? The bill of rights was about people’s rights. Where was he when we were gallivanting across the country to demand for the bill of rights to be enacted? Was he not not part of the group that told Zambians not to participate in the referendum? So if he says that we are not working together, the first question should be what motivates him to be in civil society? He should understand to say that certain organisations such as YALI have clear principles and mandates. We fight for human rights and we are fighting for the bill of rights.”
He wondered why other civil society organisations were not joining YALI on its call to limit the number of times that one can contest the Presidential elections.
“We are agreeing with the principle that we must be able to move together as one, but move together as one on what? We are going to move on principles. We have been talking about limiting the number of times that someone contests the presidency. Where have the rest of civil society organisations been? Why haven’t they joined the band wagon to demand that there’s democracy in political parties? We must be able to move in unison as one, let us not cherry-pick issues no. With that principle of cherry-picking, we don’t agree with that kind of reasoning,” Ntewewe said.
“If they are going to be talking in the day that we are demanding justice when in the night they are busy trying to play around and do things that are meant to harm an individual or meant to try and bring down a government, we are not going to be part and parcel of that because our role as civil society is not to work to bring down a government. Our role is to work with the government of the day and ensure that we are holding that government accountable, ensuring that the government is meeting the aspirations of the people, that is our role.”
Ntewewe said YALI would continue to work in isolation.
“We will continue working as an independent CSO with new thinking, new vigour, imagination and innovation. Because we know what we have stood for. We are going to demand accountability in a proper manner. It’s not about race in power but improving the lives of our people,” said Ntewewe.
Meanwhile, Chembe said in a separate interview that his organisation would continue working with other CSOs on various national issues as they have always done.
“We have been united. I don’t know if there are any divisions. If there have been any divisions we are not aware of them. What we do know is that if we are invited to an event as SACCORD we attend and participate. We have been working together with various civil society organisations around issues of constitutional regime or on issues of public order act, on issues of the Universal Periodic Review, issues around the 7NDP,” said Chembe.
“As SACCORD we have never stopped working with any civil society organisations when it comes to various national issues of the common cause. When we are invited to participate in such we do participate. So we are open, we are working together with other CSOs, we will continue working together with other CSOs, when we are invited we will participate and when we not invited we will respect that we have not been invited.”