VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina says there has never been formal advice from the opposition UPND to the Minister of Finance on how to manage Zambia’s debt.
And Vice-President Wina says disrespect for the police is what is provoking some of the reaction being demonstrated by cops and other law enforcement agencies.
She was speaking in Parliament, Friday, during the Vice-President’s Question Time.
Vice-President Wina complained that most advice on debt came in form of disparaging government, adding that it was difficult for the one who was being advised in that manner to take it genuinely.
She was responding to a question by Lufwanyama UPND member of parliament Leonard Fungulwe, who said Zambia’s debt crisis was as a result of government not taking advice.
“On debt, there has never been a formal advice from the UPND to the Minister of Finance (Dr Bwalya Ng’andu), on the debt sustainability, how to manage Zambia’s debt. But the Minister welcomed some of the remarks that have been made in the past from the opposition regarding Zambia’s debt. That’s why he acknowledged that the advice received has been used by the Ministry to address the current debt sustainability management. It’s not true that this government does not receive advice. But the advice is not really coming in the form of advice, it’s coming in the form of disparaging the government! And sometimes it’s very difficult for the one who is advised in that manner to take that advice genuinely. On the other hand, some of the sentiments that have been expressed by the opposition have been taken on board,” Vice-President Wina said.
Fungulwe also queried on whether government would not regret taking up the advice over the current voters’ register.
But in response, Vice-President Wina said that the new voter register was necessary and that the ECZ was not doing away with the old voter register in totality.
“The new voter register is necessary. ECZ is not doing away with the old voter register in totality. Some of the people who have passed on still appear on the old register to the tune of 1.4 million Zambians, who were voters, but now are no more. And surely, these should be deleted from the new voter register that we shall use in 2021. Secondly, the voter register of 2016 has been condemned by the opposition, UPND. It was one of the reasons why they went to court to complain that the voter register is not perfect, it needs some adjustments,” she argued.
“ECZ has gone to the extent of spending money, soliciting support from the political parties, including UPND, in the process of preparing elections in 2021. And members on your left side, Mr Speaker, should not tell this country that whatever ECZ is doing is wrong and is going to bring chaos in the country! On the contrary, ECZ is following the directives given by the political parties and other stakeholders that have been involved in preparing for the 2021 elections.”
And Vice-President Wina said that disrespect for the police was what was provoking some of the reaction by the police and other law enforcement agencies.
She said that citizens’ rights under the Constitution should not be abused by disrespecting other institutions in the country.
“It’s a well known fact that anyone who breaks the law on the basis of their perceived power or impunity will be dealt with by the law enforcement agencies, including the police. And the disrespect for the police is what is encouraging some of the reactions we see being demonstrated by the police and other agencies. It is very important for Zambian citizens to know that they have rights under the Zambian Constitution, but those rights should not be abused by disrespecting other institutions in the country, including the police and other law enforcement agencies,” Vice-President Wina said.
She was responding to a question by Chinsali PF member of parliament Kalalwe Mukosa, who had asked, “In the recent past, there has been a growing trend where some Zambians have been disregarding the law at will. Some of them have been going to an extent of slapping police officers, others have been making defamatory remarks on social media where they have been defaming innocent citizens. What word of advice or counsel do you have for the citizens so that they should not be abrogating the law?”
Meanwhile, Ikelengi UPND member of parliament Elijah Muchima also raised concern that during election campaigns, some district commissioners abandoned their offices and engaged themselves in partisan politics.
“In a democratic State like Zambia, we are expected to treat every citizen equally. We have seen that during campaigns, DCs abandon their offices and go into the campaign arena on party activities. They are fully engaged, yet they are called civil servants. Your Honour, could you clarify this point, who pays them (DCs) the time when they abandon their offices and engage themselves into full partisan politics?” asked Muchima.
In response, however, Vice-President Wina said district commissioners were civil servants and not participants in the political organisations of political parties.
“DCs are government public workers, they are civil servants. If the honourable member has found a DC addressing a political rally, he has every right to report that DC to the relevant authorities. Because as far as we know, the district commissioners can only perhaps be present at certain functions that may be seen to be political if the Head of State is travelling or the Vice-President is travelling. So, as of now, we know that district commissioners are not participants in the political organisations of political parties,” she said.
Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu also asked a follow-up question on whether the Vice-President would encourage members of the public to effect citizens’ arrest against any of the DCs who were found flouting the law.
“It’s a matter of fact that these district commissioners have been involved in elections whenever there is an election they have been campaigning openly for the ruling party! Would you encourage members of the public to ensure that they take citizens’ arrest against any of those DCs who are found flouting the law?” asked Mwiimbu.
But in response, the Vice-President said the leader of the opposition should not encourage anarchy.
“The leader of the opposition should not encourage lawlessness, [he] should not encourage anarchy. Citizens’ arrest would mean that at the scene where this act takes place, other players will come in to rescue somebody. Unless perhaps somebody is found stealing from someone’s house with goods in their hands, maybe that can be encouraged. But to insinuate here that we should encourage citizens’ arrest on DCs when they are seen in a district where an election is taking place, that is encouraging anarchy in the country and it should not be tolerated. We have enough law enforcement agencies where we can report these matters, including the ECZ itself. So, why don’t we do that instead of encouraging people to take the law into their hands?” wondered Vice-President Wina.