PAC president Andyford Banda has urged Zambians to ensure that the national dialogue process takes place this year, saying the ideal of getting independence is under threat.

And Banda says citizens should stand up and remind those in leadership that they are just caretakers at their mercy.

In PAC’s weekly newsletter to News Diggers! Banda wished all Zambians a happy New Year and a prosperous 2019.

He hoped that citizens could gather enough courage to ensure that Zambia gets back on track.

“Every person must understand that the challenges we are facing, collectively, as a country must to a large extent be blamed on those we have temporarily given authority to manage our resources, but must also be blamed on us as we fail to hold them accountable. That said, may the year 2019 be the year you stand up to remind those in leadership that, actually, as citizens and shareholders of this country, you are the boss, not them. They are just caretakers and they are at your mercy,” Banda stated.

He confidently noted that the Church could be trusted to lead the dialogue process and that Zambians should do what it takes to support the process.

“Having attended the meeting with the three Church mother bodies, I can confidently confirm that we can trust the Church to lead the dialogue process. I can confidently affirm that the three Church mother bodies are doing this purely for the good of our country and not anyone’s interest. We need to look at the dialogue process as an opportunity that will help reset our country to the ideals that our forefathers stood for when they fought for Independence and the ideals that the MMD fought for in 1991,” he stated.

“The idea behind the fight for Independence was to ensure that this country is controlled by its citizens, and that the resources should equally be shared for the prosperity of the citizens as opposed to the white minority. The freedom fighters did not envision that 54 years after Independence, the freedom they fought for would be taken away by fellow citizens. Their vision was that Zambia would prosper.”

He insisted that citizens should ensure the much-hyped national dialogue happens this year.

Banda added that citizens should be aware that some people would not agree to participate in a process that would actually threaten their hold to power through strengthened institutions.

“Now, we must be alive to the fact that some people will not agree to come to the table and participate in a process that will actually threaten their hold to power through strengthened institutions. You must remember that their existence depends on weak institutions and laws. That’s the reason why in many instances they have deliberately weakened institutions and undermined laws. Let me remind you that the power to change things in this country belongs to you, the people of Zambia, and not them. Hence, in 2019, ensure that the national dialogue takes place,” he urged.

Banda noted that although Zambia gained independence, introduced plural politics in order to have a system that would ensure equal opportunity for all and bring about development, the opposite had happened.

He argued that the current system was no different from the colonial or apartheid rule because it had been created to support a few people as opposed to the majority.

“Poverty levels have increased, the economy is collapsing and respect for the rule of law is at an all-time low. We still have a system that has been created to support a few people as opposed to the majority. This is no different from the colonial or apartheid rule. We have a system that does not allow citizens to freely assemble as they are at the mercy of the police who take instructions from those in authority through the abuse of the much-talked about Public Order Act,” Banda stated.

He emphasized the need for the dialogue process to commence this year because the ideals of Independence were under threat.

“As PAC, we believe the ideals of getting Independence and the ideals of multi-party politics are under threat. Thus, we need the dialogue process to remind each other of those ideals. This process will help in putting, or at least starting the process to put in place institutions and laws that will make it possible to elect leaders of our choice, leaders who we think can actually make our country prosperous,” stated Banda.

“The dialogue process is mainly about reforms as per our meeting with the three Church mother bodies. The key reforms are governance and political issues such as: constitutional and electoral reforms; respect of human rights; increased political space for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the Church; application of the Public Order Act; institutional reforms; media reforms; bring back tolerance and civility in politics; and rule of law and access to justice.”