You can’t force people to join Dialogue Forum with gun to their head – Chipimo

You can’t force people to dialogue by putting a gun to their head and pressuring them into being part of something that will not take into account their genuine wishes, NAREP Leader Elias Chipimo has told President Edgar Lungu.

And Chipimo has dismissed government’s reduction of school fees from grade eight to 10 as a political gimmick and an attempt to make the PF appear as if they have a plan for improving education when in fact not.

Meanwhile, UPND chairman for education Peter Mumba says it is possible for the PF government to provide free education for all if it utilised resources prudently.

Parliament passed the contentious National Dialogue Bill in the early hours of last Wednesday morning as a means of facilitating a dialogue process through the establishment of a so-called National Dialogue Forum.

According to the Bill, it dictates that all members of parliament shall be part of the Forum, along with the three Church Mother Bodies and 11 NGOs, who have, however, rejected their membership, citing procedural improprieties, among other irregularities.

In an interview, Chipimo insisted that government could not compel Zambians to be part of a dialogue process that would not seriously take into account citizens’ grievances.

“We are waiting to hear exactly what the position is [on the National Dialogue Bill]. I am not sure whether the Bill has been accented to but if it has, we just appeal to the sense of justice that the President should have as a leader of this nation that you can’t force people to dialogue by putting a gun to their head and pressuring them into being part of something that will not take into account their genuine wishes and desires. And so, we urge the President to re-think the whole approach to national dialogue and let’s get back to allowing the trusted institution, which is the Church Mother Bodies to co-ordinate this process in accordance with the agenda they had already laid down. It’s not too late for him (President Edgar Lungu) to shelve this process that is going to be costly,” Chipimo argued.

And the opposition leader dismissed government’s reduction of school fees from grade eight to 10 as a political gimmick.

“So, to simply lower school fees and you still have very poor results coming out from students, we still have one of the lowest performances when it comes to the educational standards within the region when we used to be the ones that would export teachers and provide quality education to countries around us, we are now the poorly-(performing), far below those expectations. So, to simply say that they have lowered the school feels doesn’t even begin to solve these problems. So, it should really be seen as a political gimmick and attempt to make the administration that is in charge of Zambia at the moment appear as though they actually have a plan for improving education when in fact they don’t,” Chipimo said.

“You can’t reduce fees on the one hand, and then shut institutions of higher learning on the other hand and take away the allowances that they were depending on. This is just more of dealing with symptoms rather than the root problems that we are facing in the education sector.”

Meanwhile, Mumba in a separate interview said it was possible for the PF government to provide free education for all if public resources were prudently utilised.

“That is why we are saying that UPND will provide free education because we will look after the resources properly, unlike the way they are doing it. The Minister says this [and] the PS says that, there is no co-ordination at all! So, we don’t know who to believe. What we are saying is that it’s possible to provide free education if all resources are used properly. So, let them just scrap off whatever they are trying to do and provide free education to those pupils. It is possible because we have seen how much money is being wasted and how much money is being stolen,” said Mumba.

         

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