PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu should address the greed that has now come to define his rule as he addresses the nation this morning, musician Pilato has said.
And Zambia Civic Education Association (ZCEA) executive director Judith Mulenga says the presidential address to Parliament on progress made in the application of national values and principles should not be made like Christmas Day where “we preach peace and love and then the rest of the year people can fight!”
The Head of State is this morning, for the third year running, expected to address the nation on the application of morals and national values, from Parliament in Lusaka.
Pilato, real name Chama Fumba, said President Lungu must be reminded that poverty was the biggest driver of immorality.
“So he (President Lungu) must deal with the needs of the people, not just the needs of the PF members but of the people of Zambia,” Pilato said.
“The President must first of all address the greediness that now defines his rule. What morality is in acquiring a multi-million-dollar jet that will just be packed somewhere, neglecting the need to provide basic necessities of life to millions of people?”
Pilato said people in Shang’ombo were still drinking dirty water from shallow wells while their leaders drunk “decorated” bottled water.
“What morality is in denying education to the poor people’s children because they can’t provide meals for themselves whilst their gluttonous leaders go for jogging every morning because they want to continue looking small even after overeating and drinking! What is morality if it does not mean equality?”
Pilato said it would be useless to talk about any other branch of morality while refusing to address the drivers of immorality in the society.
He said young people were abusing drugs and alcohol because they were not busy.
“Give them work and they will not have time to waste on drugs,” urged Pilato.
And Mulenga, in an interview, said President Lungu’s address to Parliament this morning should reflect tangible evidence of what the government was doing.
“We do not expect him to say the nice, flowery rhetoric, things he said previously,” she said.
Mulenga charged that President Lungu was “burying his head in the sand” with his ‘lamentation’ last year that early marriages and teenage pregnancies were a moral issue.
“Teenage pregnancies and early marriages are not necessarily moral issues; there are other issues that are more prominent in them. There are issues of poverty, parental responsibility neglect, social issues where there is lack of cohesion in the child’s life,” she said.
“He did say that there was a public and State officers’ bill that would enhance accountability [but] what did we hear him say when his minister was arrested by the ACC? He also talked about non-discrimination and promoting social justice; we need some tangible evidence of that because where I’m sitting I don’t see that.”
Mulenga hoped that in today’s speech, President Lungu would not subject Zambians to his usual “rhetoric words that are difficult to decipher their meaning.”
“So, this year we want to hear something that is changing our lives. We want to see the lives of Zambians beginning to change, otherwise he might as well not go there and speak to these values. Let’s not make it like Christmas where we preach peace and love and then the rest of the year people can fight!” noted Mulenga.
CTPD executive director Isaac Mwaipopo said the President should address issues surrounding public debt.
“The expectations are many from the Centre for Trade, Policy and Development more especially if we look at the state of our economy. What we expect the President to touch on is the issue of rising public debt. While we understand that he may touch on a number of issues in trying to give a national picture with regards to the national economy, we are deeply concerned from CTPD that debt has continued to rise,” he said.
“Every time we have an update from the Ministry of Finance, what we find is that there is an increase in public debt especially external debt. The more recent update given, the debt has now risen to $10 billion. That is a big problem in itself in that the continued rise in public debt also means that we have to pay back a lot in form of interest. This will have an implication on our ability to finance other development initiatives.”
Mwaipopo said unemployment was rife and the President should not omit it from his address.
“Over 60 per cent of our population is aged below 24, meaning they are exposed to a number of vulnerabilities and challenges which include unemployment which is a very big problem in this country. UNZA last week offloaded over 8,000 graduates on to the job market and our economy is developing at a very low rate. This makes it difficult for them to find opportunities,” he said.
“Even when employing, the government predominantly wants to employ nurses but what about other graduates in fields like Mass Communication, Development Studies, Political Science or Business Administration? What guarantee do they have that they will find employment within government or in the private sector? They would indicate that the private sector is the alternative for employment but the [business] environment is a bit harsh for them to create the needed jobs because of a number of things one of them being the fact that the government is competing with the private sector in borrowing resources from the domestic market.”
Mwaipopo said measures must be put in place to curb the misapplication of public resources.
“The other issue we hope the President will touch on is around transparency and accountability. This is a big issue when it comes to management of public resources. We have continued to see in the Auditor General’s report misapplications of public funds,” he said.
He urged President Lungu to explain to the nation the reasons behind the recent delays in civil servants’ salaries that have led to a go-slow at the University of Zambia.
“The positive of the national address is that citizens are given a chance to get first-hand information from the President. For a longtime the President has not had a platform to engage with the citizenry with regards to the state of the economy but there are limitations on the citizens because he does not accord them the opportunity to directly engage and ask questions,” said Mwaipopo. “We also need to look through the speeches from the previous two years and check and do an evaluation where we have challenges and see the achievements and setbacks unlike mere speeches year-in, year-out.”
Alliance for Community Action (ACA) executive director Laura Miti hopes for a change.
“We hope for a change, as he addresses the issues that affect the nation and you know he has some kind of policy change…. So, we are hoping that he is going to speak to the nation in such a way that shows that he understands the critical issues that are affecting the nation and has some direction, ideas that show him as President,” she said.
Miti said there were a number of issues that affected the nation that President Lungu was expected to deal with.
She said morality was very much founded on policy issues that look at youth unemployment and service delivery to the people.
“Morality just doesn’t stand on its own, it is very much founded in policy issues. For example, the fact that youths are unemployed, the fact that there is hunger, the fact that youths are out of school, the fact there is a breaking down of services; resources are not arriving to hospitals,” said Miti. “Those are the things that look like morality issues. So, he should not think that people’s morality sounds something like people’s faith, people’s religion, no! It is more of breakdown of systems and policies. And we would like to hear on how he will ensure that the resources of this country begin to address what is coming out as a breakdown in our moral and value system.”
During the same address last year, President Lungu said a nation without morals was like a ship without a compass.
The President lamented that high prevalence of teen pregnancies and early marriages, a growing trend in the misapplication of public funds and abuse of social media, alcohol and substance abuse as well as a poor work culture, among other frailties in society, had resulted into moral deterioration in Zambia.