Monday, December 17, 2012

Engage govt, Sata advises Oasis Forum

Engage govt, Sata advises Oasis Forum
By Mwala Kalaluka
Sun 16 Dec. 2012, 14:00 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata has advised the Oasis Forum against declaring disputes with the government before conclusively engaging it.

Reacting to the Oasis Forum's allegations that the PF administration was reversing the country's many hard-won democratic gains and in the process placing the nation at crossroads, President Sata, through his spokesperson, George Chellah, yesterday challenged the forum to pinpoint those specific democratic violations.

President Sata, according to a press release by Chellah, said his government was determined to build a deeply united, democratic and totally transformed country.

"The Head of State, who is reacting to the statement by the Oasis Forum, challenged the forum to pinpoint the specific violations or 'hard-won democratic gains' the government is attempting to reverse," the statement read in part.

President Sata said it would be more helpful if the Oasis Forum recognised that the central aim of national building lies in constructive engagement of specific sectors of governance.

"It's only fair that if there are other broader governance issues they want to raise, they should engage the Minister of Justice. Merely issuing statements will not solve our country's problems. It might win them kudos but it won't take them and the country very far," President Sata said.

"As leaders we need to encourage our citizens that our nation's survival and growth is anchored on active engagement and participation on several matters concerning our country. Therefore, we wish to advise our colleagues in the Oasis Forum and other stakeholders to learn to engage and not play to the gallery."

President Sata said the PF administration was resolute in its quest to establish a close working relationship with various stakeholders for the benefit of the country.

"We are a democratic government that fully understands its limitations as enshrined in our Republican Constitution. Furthermore, this government is serious about delivering development to our people through economic growth, job creation and combating corruption and crime among others," President Sata said.

"We are aware that this will only be achieved if we work with all stakeholders who are serious about meaningful dialogue that translates into beneficial results for our people. No wonder, since getting into government, I have made it my preoccupation as Head of State to engage the public as widely as possible, including the Church."

The Oasis Forum, which comprises the Zambia Episcopal Conference, the Council of Churches in Zambia and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, said in a statement that they found attempts by the government and State House officials to demonise and try to isolate the Law Association of Zambia, following its assertions that the government was perpetrating a breakdown in the rule of law, distasteful.

"We wish to remind this government that we have come a long way, as a nation, and we will not sit and watch as the PF government attempts to re-introduce a de-facto one-party state in this country either through costly and unnecessary by-elections or through intimidation of critics," they stated. "It is imperative that Zambians unite as we have done in the past to resist this new attempt to take us backwards. Governments are good only when citizens are vigilant."

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