Veteran politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga has declared that President Hakainde Hichilema has set a very high standard of anti-corruption that must be followed by people he is working with.
Dr. Mwaanga said people working under President Hichilema must follow his high standard of anti-corruption or be relieved of their government duties.
The former Chief Government Whip in the MMD regime also said it will not be easy for the New Dawn Government to clean-up the mess left by PF.
Dr. Mwaanga further highlighted the importance of adhering to democratic tenets.
“Our country has gone through a number of governance phases since independence in 1964. We had multi-party from 1964 to 1973, when we then had a socialist one party system, which lasted the next 18 years, when we reverted to multi-party system. Each of these systems was called a democracy. The one party socialist system subsequently became unpopular with a great majority of our people, because it failed to put food on the tables of a great majority of our people. We even experienced ugly food riots which started on the Copperbelt. The country went through a dark period. Our mothers spent hours on end, queuing for a mealie meal, cooking oil, bath soap, sugar, washing powder etc. Fanta, Coca-Cola, Sprite had disappeared and poor alternatives had hit the market in the name of Tip Top, Tarino and Quench,” Dr. Mwaanga stated.
“When in 1991 the people of Zambia, overwhelmingly voted for change, the MMD took over a country which was riddled with domestic and external debt. Nearly 80% of the national economy was under State control, including the mines. The people of Zambia developed a culture of fearing their leaders, instead the leaders fearing their masters- the people who elected them. The people were afraid to tell their leaders what was going wrong in the country, for fear of retribution. Citizens should not fear their leaders. They should fully respect their leaders and leaders must earn this respect, through their words and deeds,” he said.
Dr. Mwaanga charged that the PF regime has left a debt burden and the general government mess.
“When UPND was voted into power in August, 2021, they did not expect to find the debt burden obtaining and the general government mess. It will not be easy to clean-up the mess they found. Key areas of milking government, was largely through faulty tender procedures for fertiliser and fuel procurement. Care must be taken to avoid mistakes of the past. Fertiliser under the Fertiliser Input Supply Programme (FISP) , enables small scale farmers to produce the bulk of the food consumed by our citizens. Fertiliser supply in good time and distribution to the rural most parts of Zambia is critical. Local companies with the capacity to supply and distribute, must not be ignored at the expense of local companies, even if it invokes the old adage which says that “the devil you know, is better than the angel you don’t know”. Politics is a commitment to serve the country and people. Politics is not for people who want to make money. President Hakainde Hichilema has set very high standards of anti-corruption and those under him must follow or be relieved of their government duties,” he said.
Dr. Mwaanga added that the UPND led Government will always face criticism even after implementing some election campaign promises like provision of free education, ending cadrelism, paying retirees, recruiting over 40,000 civil servants.
“UPND was nationally elected to make a difference from PF and President Hakainde Hichilema defeated the incumbent President by a whooping margin of one million votes, something never done before. There will always be critics, even after implementation of a number of key election promises like free education, ending cadrelism, paying retirees, recruiting over 30,000 teachers and 11,000 health personnel among others. People are now free to criticise the government and the President. Those who are misguided seem to think that the democracy reintroduced by the New Dawn Government, has no limits. Even in the oldest democracies, there are limits in the form of laws which must be observed without exception by all citizens,” he said.
Dr. Mwaanga concluded:”Democracy is not price neutral and carries citizen’s rights as well as responsibilities. Both must be given equal emphasis. Most importantly, we should remember that our belief in democracy must always be consistent. We should avoid believing in democracy only when we are in opposition, but forget its importance when we are or were a ruling party. This important warning applies to all political parties, and they are well advised to heed this call. Whether we are in government or in opposition – the meaning and importance of democracy should remain the same.”