Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sichinga calls on MPs to address people’s concerns

Sichinga calls on MPs to address people’s concerns
By Florence Bupe
Sat 28 May 2011, 03:59 CAT

MEMBERS of parliament should use the opportunity during the next parliamentary sitting to table fundamental issues relevant to the country’s social and economic development, says Bob Sichinga.

In an interview, Sichinga, who is former Kafue member of parliament, said the electorate had high expectations which MPs should aspire to fulfil in their deliberations.

“As Parliament resumes, parliamentarians need to address key issues raised by the electorate, such as poverty reduction and issues of the Electoral Act,” he said.

Parliament is expected to resume sittings on May 31, 2011 for the final time before dissolution in readiness for this year’s general elections.

Sichinga said it was unfortunate that by law, the draft constitution could only be tabled before the House six months from the time of its last presentation, and subsequent failure.

He said the Constitution should have been on top of parliamentary business as the country prepares to go to the polls later this year.

However, Sichinga said there were many other issues that the parliamentarians should focus on, such as pressing government to decentralise power and allow local authorities to be key partners in decision making.

He said the concentration of power within central government had hindered the participation of other stakeholders at lower levels in key developmental issues.

Sichinga also said the subject of accountability should not be sent to sleep and called on the electorate to continue exerting pressure on government to ensure accountability and transparency in the use of resources.

On the electoral Act, Sichinga called for the enforcement of the Act.

He said this could be achieved through the clear definition of roles for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and law enforcement agencies such as the police service.

Sichinga reiterated the need to have an autonomous electoral body in which the President does not appoint the commissioners.

“In the past we have seen a massive breach of the electoral Act. Amending the Act is not enough, we need to enforce it,” he said.

And Sichinga said parallel vote tabulation (PVT) should be a must in this year’s elections, and warned the ruling MMD against creating falsehoods on the legality of the system when they (MMD) intend to execute it for their benefit.

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