28 June 2012

Zambia: Chipimo Blasts Opposition Critics

THE National Restoration Party (NAREP) has lashed out at political parties that constantly complain about others instead of providing plausible solutions to problems facing the nation.

NAREP leader, Elias Chipimo jnr (below) says he would not stand idle as an opposition party but would engage in constructive means of achieving development.

He said he would not shy away from engaging with the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) administration for the benefit of all Zambians.

The opposition leader indicated, however, that his party would only engage the Government on constructive issues such as sustainable development and at the same time point out ills in the administration of the country's affairs.

This comes in the wake of attacks from United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema when Mr Chipimo accompanied President Michael Sata to the just-ended Rio+20 Conference in Brazil.

Mr Chipimo said at a media briefing yesterday that some politicians who constantly complained about others instead of providing beneficial solutions to problems should be ashamed of themselves because they did not add value to the nation.

Mr Chipimo and his Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) counterpart, Edith Nawakwi were invited by Mr Sata for the Rio+20 Conference.

He said developing Zambia would only come from resolute, collective and committed stakeholder engagement with the Government, civil society groups, private sector and opposition parties.

"We do not wish to engage in unnecessary battles with colleagues but we wish to caution that unwarranted attacks meant to divert people's attention from focusing on what really matters for Zambia will not go unchecked," he said.

Mr Hichilema and his Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) counterpart, Charles Milupi have stood out in criticising Mr Chipimo for accepting to travel for the Rio+20 Conference with President Sata.

Mr Chipimo clarified that before accepting the invitation from Mr Sata, an intense consultation process was undertaken within NAREP ranks and the unanimous decision was that he should accept it.

"This was done on the understanding that the leadership required to take this nation forward not based on doing things the way they have always been done. We cannot rely on criticisms and complaints to take us into State House in 2016," he said.

Mr Chipimo said the Rio+20 Conference was about delivering jobs and prosperity for marginalised communities and NAREP would play a critical role to remind the PF on what it needed to do arising from that international summit.

He said currently, less than 27 per cent of Zambians had access to electricity and such matters should concern opposition leaders to help the Government by offering solutions to address the challenges.

He said the issues raised at the summit could be implemented over a period of several years and it was essential that stakeholders began to engage the Government for the betterment of Zambia.

"To ensure that Rio+20 does not turn into a mere talk shop, there must be immediate and committed efforts towards promoting sustainable development by all stakeholders in Government, civil society, the private sector and indeed among the politicians," Mr Chipimo said.

He said though his trip to Brazil with President Sata was misunderstood by some politicians, who wanted to tarnish his party's reputation, nobody would compromise narep's character and values.

He said NAREP would offer a vision of making the country an energy superpower that would address many pressing challenges and that Rio+20 was a global response to his party's goals.

He, however, said there was more to be done to deliver on goals of sustainable development arising from the Rio+20 summit as it lacked satisfactory resolutions on financing mechanisms to assist less developed countries (LDCs) to access resources necessary to deliver.

Other areas of concern were technological transfer to replace environmentally harmful industrial practices and the rights of women in the process of engagement towards global sustainable development.

Mr Chipimo said NAREP would continue to work independently but dialogue with the PF Government and other stakeholders on how best the sustainability agenda could be fostered.

He said he would this week travel to Muchinga constituency in Serenje to drum up support for his party's Parliamentary candidate, Kenneth Ngosa, a former senior private secretary to late former vice-president, George Kunda.

NAREP national chairperson, Joseph Mushalika appealed to Zambians to reject disgruntled politicians who wanted to use them for personal gain to win elections.

He said NAREP believed in relevant opposition and not opposition for the sake of it, adding that Mr Chipimo's attendance at Rio+20 gave an opportunity for checks on Government expectations.

He said NAREP would remain an independent opposition party that could not be bought or sold by anybody but offer positive and workable development solutions to the PF Government.

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