ROBERT Sichinga hopes no blood will be shed before change happens in Zambia but cautions that citizens should be prepared for such.
He observes that Zambia is at a crossroads and that there is currently a State capture of every institution of governance, including Parliament.
Sichinga served as a commerce minister as well as agriculture minister under Michael Sata’s government.
On Thursday evening, Chapter One Foundation, in conjunction with News Diggers and Prime TV held a public forum at Hotel InterContinental in Lusaka where ambassador Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika, veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga and constitutional lawyer Dr Rodger Chongwe were the main speakers.
The topic of discussion was ‘is democracy on retreat in Zambia?’
Sichinga was part of the audience and spoke during the plenary session.
He recalled that when: “we started the Movement for Multiparty Democracy in 1990, it was against the background similar to what we have now.”
“We are at the crossroads again. In my day, if you are a worker, you had to pay money to UNIP for them to run the party,” Sichinga said.
“No freedom comes on a silver platter; it does not just happen. Usually, you have to shed blood before a change is made. One hopes it doesn’t happen but you better be prepared for it. We are at the crossroads! When I was 43, Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika, Dr Mbita Chitala, Dr Remmy Mushota, late, [and] myself started sending letters. That’s how the Movement for Multiparty Democracy came about because we wanted to see the perspectives not just of one party.”
He complained that one of the things that was problematic was the fewer number of Zambians, including and especially the educated ones, who were interested to read.
“What is happening at Parliament today, and especially with bill No. 10, is an affront to the sacrifices that the lady (Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika) and the gentlemen in front (Mwaanga and Chongwe), myself and many others had put our time to achieve. Many people have been quiet about what is wrong,” he lamented.
“[But] what is wrong is wrong – it does not matter who is doing it. There is State capture around you. Don’t you see it?”
Sichinga noted that currently, every institution that matters – “judiciary, the Parliament” – was under capture.
“You are not going to achieve a new Constitution with a Parliament in that manner. Just be aware [that] there’s State capture, including through corruption and the capture of resources when the country is struggling to own up…” he told the audience, before being applauded.
“The economy situation we have now is called a downward spiral. It’s not gonna get better until something dramatic happens. We are under State capture, including the capture of Parliament itself.”
He concluded his contribution by saying: “so, let’s just say bill No. 10 is a serious affront and unless you stop it, it will weaken every single institution and you are going to have another third term. Don’t rape the Constitution!”