Democratic Party DP president Harry Kalaba says stopping people from speaking on the country’s economic situation is against their human rights.

Commenting on Information and Broadcasting Minister Dora Silya’s sentiments that people should stop making noise about the economy as it is hurting Zambia’s brand, Kalaba said people had the right to express their viewpoints on the current economic status.

He said people’s comments on the economy should actually delight the Siliya because it meant citizens were participating in governance.

“First of all, I will speak as a former foreign affairs minister in the foreign relations world. There is nothing wrong with citizens expressing their view points. Expressing citizens view points is part of good governance. Expressing of citizens’ rights is also part of human rights. So as a foreign affairs minister that served this country for four years, I can tell you with certainty that there is nothing wrong with expressing people’s views. We see it everywhere, today you and I are speaking, people in Pakistan have come together, they are protesting against Imran Khan. No one has told them to stop what they are doing because they are tarnishing the image of Pakistan. So, Madam Siliya must know better, she was a diplomat, she must have understood better that, you cannot separate human rights and good governance with issues of people’s well being. When people express themselves, she should be happy because that is part of good governance,” Kalaba said.

Kalaba said Siliya was thinking in the past by telling people not to comment on the country’s economy.

“Now I speak as a leader of the DP, we are not going to read Madam Dora Siliya script, she is not going to write for us a script and read it. She wrote that script when she was MMD and she wanted to force it on people. She is still going back to the old tired tactics of wanting us to read her script. We are not reading her script and if things are bad as they are in Zambia right now, is she not ashamed of herself as well? What is there to hide anyway? Because everybody knows that we have failed to honour the $42 million that we should have paid on the Eurobond. Who doesn’t know that? So when I speak about it or when any other person speaks about it, is that tarnishing the image of the country? Who doesn’t know that under her watch her government has procured 42 fire tenders with equivalent to the money we have failed to pay the bondholders?” Kalaba asked.

“The world has become a global village meaning what is happening in Uganda, when Bobby Wine is intimidated, immediately Zambia gets to know. So when the people of Uganda speak, they are not tarnishing the image of Uganda. They are creating their own space in the 21st century. So there is nothing that Madam Siliya is speaking that is real. Madam Siliya is still behaving in the past. That is why I tell people it is difficult to have people like Madam Siliya operating in today’s modern gallery. Because ba likowela balya [she is tainted]. So to remove her from that type of thinking to a thinking that is warped is difficult because she is not going to stop anybody from expressing themselves.”

And Kalaba said calling President Edgar Lungu President General was not going to change the current economic situation.

“President Lungu is tired, President Lungu doesn’t know if he is coming or going. The economic quagmire which we are in, which he has created is too huge for him to even think through. He is not equal to the task. So what does he do? He will divert you to simple issues about his personal ego ‘let me be called President General’, so when you call him President General will the price of mealie-meal will come down? When you call him President General, the people in Misisi compound, are they going to have employment? Zambia has moved beyond that stage that is why we are coming in as DP. We need to start dealing with issues. What we have done to ourselves as a country is that what has become important is not important, what is important has become unimportant. President Lungu wants to drag all of us in his kind of governance if at all it is governance. The President has run out of ideas, the President is short of how to go around these issues of management. Who cares even if he is called President General plus plus? Maybe it will help us stop load shedding,” said Kalaba.