SANAC executive director Gregory Chifire has called on President Edgar Lungu to disband the Commission of Inquiry on electoral violence, saying it’s now an irrelevant expenditure amidst austerity measures.
Recently, President Edgar Lungu signed Statutory Instrument No. 60 of 2018, allowing the Commission of Inquiry into Political Violence and Voting Patterns to continue operating until December 31.
Initially, the commission was tasked to finish it’s work within 120 days of being appointed but this has been stretched on three occasions.
Commenting on the development in an interview with News Diggers! Chifire said the setting up of the Commission of Inquiry was not necessary in the first place.
“In the first place, the setting up of the Commission of Inquiry was not necessary. It was just a set up to reward those that had helped the President campaign because he had no where to take them. To determine the cause of violence, you don’t need a Commission of Inquiry. We all know, and it has been an open secret, what has been the cause of election violence. History has it, reporters have told us, journalists have written what has been causing violence, we don’t need to spend this money,” he said.
“So we are asking the President, let him disband that Commission of Inquiry because it’s irrelevant, it is not serving it’s purpose. If anything, let them present the report they have done we want to see the work they have done so far.”
Chifire said government’s claim of employing austerity measures was merely cheap talk because if that was the case, the President could have disbanded the Commission of Inquiry.
He observed that under austerity measures, everyone is expected to be subjected to tightened spending and not only general citizens.
“The government has told us that they are employing austerity measures, meaning there’s discipline in how we spend national resources. But I know very well and everyone knows very well that this is merely cheap talk. If that was the case, the President could have disbanded that Commission of Inquiry and it could have started with him. Because austerity measures are not only meant to punish civil servants, or general citizens, we should all be subjected to austerity measures, we should all be subjected to financial discipline, we should all sacrifice. Sacrifice should start with the top. Sacrifice should start with the policies and the programs that we set up and implement,” Chifire said.
“It’s not only about this Commission of Inquiry, we have also seen government spending money in acquiring very expensive motor vehicles for public servants, senior public servants. Would we call that as austerity measures? This government is taking citizens for a ride. Austerity measures should start in State House. If anything, citizens have been sacrificing, have been subjected to these austerity measures from the first budget of the PF government in 2012, till now the citizens have been sacrificing.”
Chifire charged that the PF government had failed to manage finances because they were careless with the way they spent money.
“When we talk about austerity measures, we are talking about discipline in how to spend money. But you see, a few weeks ago they went back to Parliament that they want supplementary budget. How did it come about? It’s because this government is careless in the way it spends money. The PF government should give us their own definition of austerity measures, not from the definition of the dictionary, they have got their own. Their own means that they enrich themselves at the expense of the poor masses,” he said.
“You know what, our economic recession is self inflicted. Where as in the whole world there’s no economic recession, our country has been in economic recession since 2012. This is laughable. It is because this government has failed to manage finances, no wonder they have been jumping from one MMD minister of finance to another because they don’t have an answer. They are not ready to provide solutions for the people of Zambia that are suffering because they have failed.”
Meanwhile, Chifire said if the PF government was serious about austerity measures, they should lead by example in the manner they conducted their business.”
If this government is really serious about austerity measures, let it show, let them lead by example in the manner they conduct their business. Look at the delegation that went to China for instance, their friends in the neighbouring countries like Tanzania, the President can even travel in economy class but our President can never do that, and then he calls austerity measures. What are austerity measures? It is an insult on us Zambians. We are aware now that government has no money to even pay civil servants, it is finished. That is why they are creating taxes everywhere, to them that’s austerity measures,” said Chifire.
“If you talk about austerity measures, let us see to it that salaries of ministers are reduced. Let us see to it that the salary and allowances of the President are reduced. Let us see to it that the vehicles that ministers are driving are changed from the expensive GXR to a very simple motor vehicle then that’s when we will say that we are in austerity measures. At the moment our budget is top heavy. At the top thats where we spend too much money.”