LAURA Miti says changing government cannot end problems facing the country unless an effective system is put in place.
The Alliance for Community Action executive director says this is so because Zambians do not learn to hold their government accountable.
“Don’t sleep outside for a politician because the only relationship you voters have with those elected is delivering services to the people,” he said.
Facilitating at a Germany Technical Corporation (GIZ) training for ward development committee members in Choma under the ‘Local Participation in Governance (LoPaGo)’ programme, Miti said it was not only about ushering good people into office but also good rules, without which there can be no change.
“Zambians do not learn to hold their government accountable so even if we change government, problems will still be many,” Miti said. “On Earth problems will always be more than money, no matter what you do even if you change government unless the rules are followed.”
She said Zambia’s biggest problem was failing to implement rules that protect public resources and punish wrongdoers.
“Under the MMD regime, life was better for middle income people. The lives of people at the bottom change when there is a general overall change. As for now, the people in villages are still living a Stone Age kind of life,” Miti said.
She hoped that the knowledge given to ward development committee members would be a powerful tool to help them play their role of monitoring and implementing developmental projects in their wards effectively.
“Empowering you WDCs with information on how to play your role is important because you can engage your own local leadership such as MPs and councillors over matters of developmental projects under CDF (constituency development fund). Don’t sleep outside for a politician because the only relationship you voters have with those elected is delivering services to the people. Beyond that there is nothing in common between you and them because you can’t even go to their houses to drink or eat. So I challenge you to ensure that in your tenure as WDCs bring change for the betterment of your communities,” Miti said. “It is better that those that can’t improve people’s lives leave their positions. People must see that their lives have improved. As WDCs, be accountable to yourselves and always ensure that government money goes into government programmes and not in people’s pockets.”
She said Zambians across the country could live a better life if WDCs start working effectively in ensuring that Constituency Development Funds were used for intended projects and quality work was done.
“Zambia’s biggest problem is wasting money legally, for example, project monitoring like a borehole where maybe 10 people from the council instead of one person going in the field just to check one borehole that one person alone is able to check and such cases can’t come out in the Auditor General’s report because it is deemed legal yet a wastage of resources that is used as allowances for that big number of officers,” Miti said.
She urged WDCs to be careful with usage of resources so as not to disadvantage their communities.
“Government money must improve the lives of the poor. If the poor people’s lives are not changing then money is being wasted,” Miti said.
“It is very important that as WDCs you are capacitated with knowledge so that people at the bottom benefit as well. Usually communities are less frustrated when they have information about their roles.”
And a participant, Doctor Gambwe, thanked GIZ for coming up with the LoPaGo initiative adding that it would help to sensitive WDCs on their roles.
“This empowerment of knowledge will enable us to plan for projects that are very important and monitor them effectively,” said Gambwe.