Governance activist Lewis Mwape says the National Dialogue Forum is not a credible process as it is not transparent.
And Mwape says the three civil society organisations that have come together to support the outcome of the Forum will be held accountable in future if the outcomes will be against the will of the majority.
In an interview, Mwape said that the Forum was merely aimed at fixing political opponents.
“We must appreciate that freedom of expression and association must be appreciated and it seems that the colleagues are convinced that the process is credible because they are part of it. What is more important is to wait and see what will come out of the NDF; whether it will have credibility and public acceptability, then the colleagues are right to do that. But I think when we are coming up with laws, it is important to know that laws must be able to stand a test of time and they should not be made with a motive of making other peoples’ lives tough, especially when it comes to political opponents. I think the NDF in my view is that kind of a forum that lacks transparency. Today, as we speak, we don’t know what they are discussing on the table; it is not in the public domain, what kind of resolutions they are coming up with. If you are doing something on behalf of the wider citizenry, the first thing is that it should be open and consultative. The Ministry of Justice needed to publish the draft constitution for public scrutiny,” Mwape said.
“So, this group of civil society organizations, which includes MISA Zambia, which represents journalists, I think there is need for us leaders in this country to champion initiatives that are popular to the Zambian people, initiatives that are not just targeting political opponents, but that which are there to benefit the Zambian people. They are free to do what they want to do, but it is also important to understand that days are numbered; those of us that are able to participate in crooked processes, will be held accountable in the future. By accepting to be there it means that they understand the motive of the process and they also understand that the outcomes of the process must be as they are planned. If they believe that it is a good thing that they are doing, it’s a democracy. But other groups of people, who feel that the process is not credible, let them also come out and defend the peoples’ opinion, so that the people can compare the two sides and judge who is making sense. If I was given an opportunity, I would be on the side of those who would propagate the peoples’ agenda because the NDF is not a good process, I would explain why people should not accept this process.”
He said proposals such as re-introducing the position of deputy minister would put more pressure on the already-stressed public coffers.
“People do not understand and appreciate what has been the draft, what has been proposed, what has been consolidated in the meantime. And so far, you just hear rumours of proposals, such as returning the position of deputy minister. And if you are a person who loves this country, you already know that we are in a crisis financially and going forward, we need a system that is lean at political level so that we reserve the money. Most of the things they want to include in the Constitution were rejected by the people during Sata’s time when people were making submissions. So, this NDF is a non-people process because people so far do not understand; go to Kasama, go to Mongu, go to all these places, you will find that the process is not known to the people as it is in the dark, and the people do not appreciate what they are discussing,” said Mwape.
“The NDF as a Bill itself was rejected at Committee Stage, but they still pushed it though to Parliament and one political party that had good numbers passed it. If the government respected peoples’ views, the Bill was supposed to be redirected at the Committee Stage. The title itself is ‘dialogue,’ but is there dialogue in that Forum? What is there is just a hidden agenda to fool people that there is dialogue.”