Thursday, February 18, 2010

Govt has departed from democratic principles – CCZ

Govt has departed from democratic principles – CCZ
By Sandra Mulowa
Thu 18 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT

THE Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) has observed that there has been a departure from democratic principles to a non-tolerant culture. And the CCZ has said the performance of the judicial system in Zambia leaves much to be desired.

CCZ general secretary reverend Susan Matale on Tuesday said since 1991 Zambia had embraced a democratic system of government, a government for the people, by the people and for the people which entailed that the people's aspirations were to be determined by themselves and calls for the principles of equal participation and freedom of expression to be enhanced. She said the objectives and aspirations of the 1990's had died down.

Rev Matale said the governance system did not promote equal participation and justice for the ordinary citizens, as only a few elite were the beneficiaries. She said many accused persons spent unrealistically longer periods in detention awaiting trial and time taken to conclude court cases could not go without comment.

Rev Matale said this was injustice and an infringement of one's right to freedom and fair trail. She called upon the government to comprehensively review the country's judicial system so as to enable the speedy delivery of a fair trail for all.

"It has been noticed that the rich, the powerful and famous appear to be above the law and go scot-free while the poor languish in prisons," Rev Matele said.

She said as next year's tripartite elections approached and various political parties were preparing to launch their pre-elections campaigns, it was prudent that the same were held in free, fair and transparent manner.

"It is therefore the duty of all patriotic Zambians to conduct themselves in a matter that ensures that the campaigns and elections are held under a fair and violence free environment," she said.

"However, the country is now experiencing a time of severe moral degradation as can be seen from the unpalatable language that our politicians are using against each other."

Rev Matale observed that insults, name-calling and character assassination had become the norm of the day as the country draws towards the polls. She said the language being used was not only unacceptable but also a bad precedent for children.

Rev Matale said CCZ condemned any acts by any person or institution that undermined the holding of elections in a free and peaceful atmosphere.

"Whereas we call upon members to turn up in large numbers to register as voters in the voter registration exercise which starts in June 2010, we beseech all political parties to avoid politicizing the exercise," she said.

Rev Matale called upon the Zambia Police Service and other law enforcement agencies to exhibit traits of impartiality in the execution of their duties during this period up to the polls.

She also called on the media to be ethical and offer a balanced reporting of events leading to the polls so as to accord every Zambian the right to information.

Rev Matale said despite the government in the last ten years championing the message of zero tolerance to corruption, corruption remained rampant, especially in government institutions where colossal sums of money continue to be pocketed by a few individuals.

"This act not only deprives the country of the much needed revenue but has also resulted in reduced service provision and deteriorating living conditions for the majority of Zambians especially those living in densely populated rural areas. Corruption is the greatest enemy to the country's development. Government needs to scale up their corruption prevention programmes," she said.

Rev Matale said Zambia had continued to experience deteriorating and alarming poverty levels despite the country recording significant economic improvements such as the attainment of the single digit inflation rate and the six percent economic growth.

"This is as a result of unequal distribution of resources from the purported economic gains, misplaced priorities, wastefulness, greed and corruption on the part of those in authority and the continued development of policies that favor the investors and outsiders at the expense of the ordinary citizens," she said.

"Poverty is not only a demeaning state of humanity but also undermines the citizens capacity to participate in the country's agenda. Poverty deprives the people of God-given ability of free will as their bargaining power is weakened."

Rev Matale said poverty had been a recipe for corruption, increased crime rates and accounted for the majority of electoral malpractices during elections where people exchange their right to choose for money and other material things.

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