17 December 2012

Zambia: Oasis Forum's Futile Attempt to Incite Zambians

THE grandstanding on national issues being practised by the Oasis Forum will remain a howling failure for as long as the Forum partners avoid engaging our Government leaders in meaningful dialogue.

It is clear to us that the Forum is sliding into the hackneyed tactic of issuing statements that are meant to stoke emotions among the Zambian people, who are being made to believe that they are victims of grievous injustices at the hands of the Patriotic Front Government.

The ultimate desire, we are inclined to believe, is to sway, especially the gullible people's attention from the tangible improvements the new Government, in power for just a little over one year, is making in their living situations.

It is a matter of common knowledge that public statements will remain an exercise in futility for the Oasis Forum if it wilfully sidelines the leaders it is accusing of abandoning its task of promoting good governance.

The Forum partners can certainly not seek to invent themselves as gutsy warriors in the absence of genuine discussions with the Government leaders who are the public policy drivers and enjoy the mandate of the Zambian people to lead the affairs of our nation.

We are not aware of any edict issued by the Government for anyone not to express their views on matters of governance.

The only plea we know the Government has made is for those with contributions to make to use the right channels of communication.

It is evident that our leaders are eager to embrace dialogue going by the manner in which they have encouraged citizens to participate in the Constitution-making process which inarguably bears the marks of transparency and accountability.

On subjects that some interest groups have regarded as contentious, such as the Public Order Act, the Government has still not slammed its doors on dissenting views.

There have instead been resounding calls for aggrieved parties to deposit their views in the right avenues, away from posturing.

We concur with President Michael Sata who believes in encouraging citizens that our country's survival and growth should be anchored on active engagement and participation in crucial matters affecting all of us.

The President has demonstrated his deep-seated desire to embrace dialogue by establishing a close working relationship with various interest groups.

We can cite his engagement with traditional leaders who are an integral part of our governance structures and are better placed to share critical notes with the Head of State for the good of our nation.

It is a pity that the Oasis Forum is seeking to reintroduce the less sophisticated tactics of some members of the civil society who pander to their sponsors' wishes, cleverly sidestepping the real issues.

We must be able to reach a stage in our lives as Zambians to respect our pledged responsibilities to protect the interests of our country.

By saying this, we are not in any way coercing the critical members of the civil society to abandon their duties of maintain checks and balances because that way, the Government may not realise the mistakes it is making.

On the contrary, we are encouraging the civil society to stop playing to the gallery; to stay away from inflammatory statements that are only issued to please their masters and are not helpful to the Zambian people.

While we respect the freedom of the civil society players who populate the newspapers and radio stations to reach their targeted audiences, we advise them to reflect on their unwarranted attacks on Government and engage the right approach to national issues.

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