SOME youths, including popular musicians Chama Fumba alias Pilato and Brian Bweembya alias B-Flow, have insisted that their protest against various governance issues like corruption will proceed today.
In a statement issued by the Zambian Youth Charter, the youths stated that were concerned with the increased levels of unemployment, grand corruption and infringement on human rights, among other issues currently affecting the country.
“We the youth of Zambia recognise that we are the future of Zambia and that the mistakes being made today will affect us in the future; bearing in mind our position as custodians of the future welfare of our country. We believe that Zambia’s best days are yet to come; we envision a society in which all the rights enshrined in our constitution are accorded to every Zambian and protected irrespective of age, physical or mental ability, gender, geography, religion, education, or socio economic status,” read the statement.
“We aspire to have a free society in which every Zambian can aspire for and attain a decent living for themselves through employment or business ventures. We are concerned with the current climate of joblessness, unchecked and rampant inequality, grand corruption and infringement of our rights, including the right to freely assemble, the right to free speech. The right to freely receive and disseminate our ideas are a major barrier to the realization of the advancement of the youth and enjoyment of our constitutional rights and the dignity of all Zambians.”
They stated that unemployment and corruption had continued to endanger the country’s future.
“We therefore demand the following: decent job opportunities for us the youth to avoid violent cadreism and involvement in illicit activities that result from the high unemployment levels which endanger our country now and in the future. Decent jobs are the key to our livelihoods and our dignity. (2)Corruption action against any individual reported to be involved in corrupt activities and that government intensify the fight against corruption. We refuse to tolerate the abuse of public resources when a number of young people are starving in public universities due to lack of money. We have continued to see and hear corruption allegations among top government leaders but no tangible results or actions to curb this evil,” read the statement.
“Respect for human rights: the State needs to commit to the protection of the human rights of every citizen within the borders of our country. We demand for the freedom of the assembly, freedom of expression, freedom to receive and disseminate ideas and freedom of access to information. We believe these freedoms are important for all Zambians in their pursuit for a better society now and in future. We further demand for protection from victimisation, suppression of youth voices by the state through the police and political cadres. We also demand for fair application of the Public Order Act.We want accountable leadership; a leadership that is accountable and transparent to all Zambians. This is because we understand that our leaders are the servants of the people, therefore, the people must be aware and approve of what their servants do whilst in office.”
They stated that there was need to protect the sanctity of the constitution from those that may attempt to violate it.
“Respect for the constitution: That the sanctity of our constitution should be preserved and protected from those that may attempt to violate it. The constitution should guide our behavior and not the politicians guiding our constitution and any amendment to the constitution must reflect our desires as the people of Zambia and not the narrow partisan interests of a few politicians. Any amendment to the constitution must only be done after full and adequate consultation of we, the people of Zambia,” read the statement.
“We also demand access to health, good housing, clean water and good sanitation. So many of our citizens live in squalid conditions without access to toilets and clean running water.Many can not afford to access good health care when they fall sick.We demand that equal access to these amenities be provided for all citizens to live indignity. A properly funded public health care system is our right. Currently, decent healthcare is a distant dream for most Zambians. Health care remains chronically underfunded, and is a threat to our future.If we cannot be healthy, we cannot lead the country in the future and enjoy our right to a decent life.”
They also called for improved rights for women in society.
“We also demand for improved learning environments for learners across the country, especially in rural areas. We believe that only decolonized quality education is key to the success of young people and that of our country. Comprehensive civic education focusing on civil & political rights, constitutionalism and patriotism. Enhance education to include compulsory entrepreneurship, agriculture and Environmental education as part of the curriculum. We also demand equal access to education for the girl child who continues to be disadvantaged on the basis of their gender. We also demand for the reinstatement of meal allowances for all students in all government universities because we feel even if we do not have resources, education cannot be one item we can compromise. Education is a right that every Zambian deserves,” read the statement.
“The Zambian government and leaders at all levels must commit to include and protect Zambian women and girls in all arenas of our national life; in education, business, health, agriculture, government, mining, politics, and the home etc.Women’s contributions to Zambia’s development and well being is immeasurable and must be afforded there cognition and investment equal to their contribution. In Zambia, as elsewhere around the world, women’s paid care work in health, agriculture, in the home, and the community must be recognized, reduced, and respected. In addition, Zambian women and girls must be defended and protected, especially from sexual and gender based violence.”
They further called for equality in the tax system.
“We also demand for a fair tax system; a tax system where the richest citizens and companies pay their fair share. Zambia is a country with huge natural resources. Currently, a few Zambians and multinational companies enjoy the benefits of our natural resources, such as copper and gold. This is the wealth of our country and her citizens, and must be shared equitably to our benefit and to develop our nation. The tax system must ensure the wealthiest contribute the most, and the poorest citizens the least. We the youth of Zambia are committed to ensuring that these demands are met in our lifetime,” the statement read.