NGOCC Executive Director Anne Mbewe says corruption can be prevented if the media can make citizens aware of how resources should be managed.
And Mbewe says the media should take a leading role in providing platforms for people’s views to be heard now that government, through the Ministry of Finance, has announced that they are receiving budget submissions.
She said this in a speech read on her behalf by NGOCC Coordinator for Communication Advocacy and Networking Unit Whitney Mulobela during a media training on the National Budget: Beyond the Numbers, Making the Budget Work for the People, Tuesday.
“As we always say, development will not be attained if us who are supposed to be the actors, the media, civil society and everyone are not taking interest in to ensure that we follow these resources. I heard a conversation which was going on, in terms of the ongoing fight against corruption, we can prevent that by making more and more citizens aware about their management of resources and these are some of the things that are core and part of this process of ensuring that citizens have a way to follow the budget in process,” Mbewe said.
“So it is our appeal now that the government has announced that they have began the budget submissions, it’s our appeal that you as media will go out and sensitise as many citizens as possible and provide platforms within the media spaces hoping that the government will be listening so that as many views as possible can be gotten, the Ministry of Finance has announced that they have commenced collecting budget submissions, the Beyond the Numbers, Making the Budget Work programme for citizens is essentially to influence citizens involvement in the budget making process.”
Mbewe said the media should use this opportunity to ensure that they reach the remotest parts of the country so that everyone was heard.
“the budget is an important tool for national development, that is where our national cake is shared, and therefore, if our mothers in Kaputa, our mother’s in Shiwangandu, our mothers in Kalabo, our relatives across the country are to effectively benefit from the national cake, it begins with us citizens beginning to go and make submissions and talk about what is it that we want to see in our national budget,” she said.
“So it’s a very important process and that’s why we have deliberately been doing these engagements with colleagues from the press that you help us to go and create an awareness out there that this process is not just one of those processes but hinges on the development trajectory of our country, so if we want to see accelerated development, we want to see equitable distribution of resources, we want to see more gender responsive budget, it begins with this process that the Ministry of Finance has actually began. So from the rights perspective, government has a role to ensure equitable distribution of resource for all citizens. For all of us to flourish, for all of us to develop, for the country to develop, it’s that tool, the national budget, that is going to ensure that we have that balance and therefore it becomes very important that citizens participate.”
Mbewe stressed that citizens would only effectively participate once they had adequate information.
“Citizens won’t participate for as long as they don’t have information. The concept that we as a country have adopted the democratic concept is such that you as the media play a critical role, if we are going to flourish, by the definition of democracy that its government of the people, by the people, for the people, it means there must be some symbiotic communication between the governors and those who are being ruled. That can only happen if we have an effective media and this is why we are growing this cadre of media practitioners to partner with us in this journey to ensure that we have equitable development, ” Mbewe said.
“We are now talking about increased CDF which has been increased to K27 million by the new dawn administration. What this means is that there are a lot of resources that are going to to the general public or to the communities, are these resources at the end of the day going to benefit the majority of our citizens? These resources can only benefit our citizens if we actively engage them and put some awareness or as the media helps citizens to understand their role in the budgeting process.”
She said that as the country commemorates Africa Day, it was important to note that the day would continue to be meaningless if Africans continued wallowing in poverty.
“Africa Freedom dDy or freedom to Africa will remain meaningless to us if we will continue to be yoked to the chains of poverty. how are we going to unyoke ourselves from the chains of poverty? It is by making tools like the national budget work for everyone of us in the country,” said Mbewe.