Foundation for Democratic Process executive director Chimfembe Mwenge has challenged President Edgar Lungu to hold press conferences on a regular basis in order to engage citizens on various policy and accountability issues.
And Mwenge says the Patriotic Front government will never be taken seriously if they will fail to act implement austerity measures announced by Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe last month.
In an interview, Mwenge noted that regular updates from Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya were. not enough.
“The accountability part of it is what we are doing, and this government make it easy for us to hold them accountable. That is what we are doing through you the media and other channels to ensure that there is accountability. There is a lot happening that makes it easy for us to hold them accountable. A lot of irregular activities. But I think its important that a President should communicate in a manner much more actively with his citizens. It’s critical because with that kind of engagement, you actually address fears. You actually help the confidence of the nation regarding the challenges that we are facing to rise. So really I think we can make equally an appeal to President Lungu to ensure that once in a while, even in a quarter, much as we appreciate the feedback from the cabinet meetings that are held, I think it’s important that the head once in a while, makes himself available and engage with the citizens actively and even delegating to each place to communicate to the public all the time. It’s important that he actively engages with the citizens,” Mwenge said.
And Mwenge highlighted the need to for government stick to austerity measures.
“I think it would be important for the executive to commit to the austerity plan. Because in demonstration of the same, that is how stakeholders and indeed investors will have confidence in our economy. So, the President must ensure that he sticks to his word on that same promise, including his ministers they must stay good. Otherwise people might not take us seriously as a nation especially at the rate where we are going, and we have borrowed so much against a productive base. A lot might lose confidence. So, it’s important that there is fiscal discipline and over and above that there is also political accountability, when you give your word, you must make good on it. So, really, I think that’s something you can say. What we can simply says for now is that it is important to make good on his word. Because its on the merit of that word, how he acts on that word with his cabinet, that is actually how we shall demonstrate even to those whom we have been wooing for local investment. I think it’s really important because I think what matters the most is that we have gotten the word from the executive. They are the ones to direct the nation. There has to be action that will match that word. Where action are not matching his word, then certainly we would be setting ourselves for failure,” said Mwenge.
“And it’s important that we actually do not create that impression. It’s important particularly that the directive has come from the highest level from the President that he makes good on that word. And perhaps also ensure that we invest much more in the SMEs because as you can see many of our young people are roaming the streets without jobs and sometimes I think its also healthy. We may make a conclusion of the social ills that we are observing that have had an effect are as a result of young people being idle without anything to do. So, I think it’s prudent that government directs its attention on improving the social sector particularly in SMEs. With what happened to the Cholera, it hit a lot of people, the SMEs are out of business, so we anticipate that an enabling environment is created for young people so that they can begin to find their sits and engage in their businesses that they were doing and perhaps even expand because we know as a matter of facet that government cannot employ everyone. So, we have to ensure that the private sector is given the boost by ensuring that there is liquidity in the economy and allow a situation where our young people can be productive so that we can tackle idleness.”