GOVERNANCE activist Rueben Lifuka has condemned Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo for alleging that former attorney general Musa Mwenye and Constitutional lawyer John Sangwa are hungry lawyers on UPND president Hakainde Hichilema’s payroll, saying such utterances are not expected in a democracy.
And Lifuka says it is likely that the August 12 general election will result in a rerun due to the proliferation of political parties that may split the vote.
Meanwhile, Lifuka says there is need for the Republican President to carefully select who he associates with because he carries Zambia’s image.
Speaking on Radio Phoenix “Let the People Talk,” Friday, Lifuka said it was disappointing that divergent views were not being respected.
“That is the unfortunate thing about our politics today, what I call our smallness in our politics. Divergent views are not well taken on, and in most cases, those that hold different opinions from the ones will hold are ridiculed in the manner Honourable Lusambo is doing vis a vis Musa Mwenye and Mr John Sangwa. I think in a democracy such as ours, we should be prepared to listen to divergent views. One of the driving forces to the fight to multi-party democracy in 1991 was essentially to have this tolerance for divergent views. To imagine that this is coming from a Minister is really unfortunate because the Minister does not then expect that all insundry should respond in a similar manner,” Lifuka said.
“So, should Musa Mwenye and John Sangwa respond in a like manner? I don’t think so. We need to have integrity in our politics. I think the party needs to think very carefully, and not just PF, but all political parties. There is need to think very carefully about the image that they are projecting to the general public. Such utterances reflect negatively on the party in as far as the decency the party would like to promote. I would expect that the party would reign in all members who want to go outside rules.”
And Lifuka, who is also Transparency International vice chairperson, predicted that the August 12 polls would go into a rerun.
“It is most likely [that there will be a rerun. Why I think 2021 is critical, I think that first of all, we have seen new players on the scene. Some new political parties that were not there in 2015, 2016: Socialist Party; Democratic Party; Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); New Hope MMD etc. There is a bit of ground swell for support for these other new parties, which will change the dynamics. This will probably not be a two-horse race. It is not just UPND and PF, it could be other players as well, really eating into the support base of the two parties. But that is number one, number two, the PF would like to demonstrate that they have to stay in power beyond the 10 years they came into power after a long period in the opposition, and they want to hold onto that power and continue with their programmes. Similarly, the UPND will say, ‘they have been at it for a long while since 2001’ and they need to get it this time around. The state of the economy, unfortunately, also has to be put into the mix to everything we are talking about. With the economy performing as it is, and the challenges that people are facing, it raises the stakes that political parties are able to respond to people’s frustrations, people’s anxieties,” Lifuka said.
Meanwhile, on the arrest of Belarusian businessman Aleksandr Zingman in the DRC, Lifuka was asked whether it mattered who the President associated with.
In response, he stressed that there was need for a Republican President to carefully select who he associated with as he carried the image of the country.
“I think to a large extent it does matter, yes, the President has his private life and he can do what he needs to do in his private life. By and large, he is the mirror of the country and when you talk about integrity and morality of a country, it would be reflected in the way the President conducts himself. So, whilst he has a private life, he is a public figure, he is the President of the nation. In other countries, they would even say, ‘the father of the nation.’ Of course, I find that to be very patronising, but he holds a different position in society. He is not an ordinary person and his conduct, therefore, will come under scrutiny. Even if it is well intended and it is in private so to say, this tends to colour the image of the people about the President. Therefore, a leader should choose his friends carefully because people can then draw inferences about his own conduct from the friends that he keeps, that company that he keeps. So, in this insistence, I think that it is important for any leader, not just at the level of the President, it also includes Ministers. If I found a Minister dancing on tables in a pub, it would reflect negatively on that particular Minister,” Lifuka replied.
Lifuka also said there was need for the ECZ to allow for an independent audit of the voter register to build trust and confidence in the electoral voting system.
“ECZ should still allow for independent audit of the voter register. Here is what is important, ECZ should create opportunities for people to freely exercise their rights to vote, but for the political players to also accept the results without pointing out any flaws. They have done what they could under very difficult circumstances. Of course, one questions why the needed to bring up a completely new register, but to build trust and confidence in the system I would say ECZ should allow for the independent audit of the registrar. But they should also provide the information, I don’t understand why the ECZ website, I don’t know whether you have been on the website of late, you will not find the results of previous elections. It raises questions. Let us have these interactions with the general public by providing all the relevant information,” said Lifuka.