SOUTHERN Africa Centre for Constructive Resolution of Dispute (SACCORD) Executive Director Boniface Cheembe has emphasised the need for an international Indaba to demystify China trade in Zambia.
And Operation Young Vote (OYV) Executive Director Guess Nyirenda says if the access to information bill was in place, the riots that were sparked by the alleged sale of ZAFFICO could have been avoided.
Speaking in an interview, Mr Cheembe said there is need to clarify misinformation about China trade in Africa.
“The SACCORD point of view…we believe that the National Dialogue is an incredible process that matters for every single citizen. We believe the prevailing political situation which the country has will not in any form disturb the dialogue process to which many stakeholders remain committed. The issue of Chinese investment not only in Zambia but across Africa is something that needs to be demystified. It requires greater engagement, it requires greater understanding. As SACCORD, we believe that sooner rather than later, there will be a conference that will bring different stakeholders to discuss these matters so that we are able to speak from the informed point of view. We are able to have an understanding in terms of culture, in terms of the economics, in terms of the politics that Zambia and Africa has vis-a-vis China.
He concurred with Mr Nyirenda that lack of information bleeds conflicts.
“Often time, from the conflict point of view, if there is lack of information about culture, politics, economic and whatever other spectrum if you like, it tends to misinformation, disinformation and most worrying, it tends to give rise to scapegoating. If scapegoating comes into the picture, it becomes a serious source of conflict. We believe that there is need to demystify China trade to Africa and this can only be done if there are proper discussions not only in Zambia but around the Africa continent so that we can have an understanding. If there are any issues of discomfort, those are brought out very clearly especially on the part of citizens and ultimately everyone continues to co-exist in the global world, full of tolerance and appreciation over different culture people have in different parts of the world,” he said.
Mr Cheembe said most African countries are Western oriented and that with that comes the issues of transparency and accountability but the Chinese system, political orientation may not cover all the tenets that the Western module may have.
“…It is basically finding the understanding of how these two work and finding the right engagements in those particular regards. What is happening in our country politically is lack of understanding in our view and we shall get to the point when that understanding becomes very clear so that all of us will work together on the same page,” he said
And speaking in a separate interview, Mr Nyirenda said if Kitwe residents knew the truth about the status of ZAFFICO, they could not have rioted.
“People would know the truth if there was access to information law. Right now, it is impossible for Zambians to access information in these offices. As OYV, we are saying the sooner we brought this bill to Parliament to be made into law, the better for the country,” he said.
“The biggest challenge is that those who are sent into leadership begin to think that they are more powerful than those who send them into leadership, especially this regime, the voters are not important,” he said.
Mr Nyirenda said it is sad that citizens are kept in the dark whenever Government is planning to sell national assets.
“…because the PF Government controls everything, they think that they own all parastatal when in the actual fact every citizen has a share in those particular parastatal assets. And denying citizens information about what is about to be sold, whether it is an indigenous individual or it is a foreigner, citizens must be told when shares are being floated on the Lusaka Security Exchange,” he said.
Mr Nyirenda wondered why Government continues denying citizens access to information.
“We need information to be given to the people and not the way things are happening in this country. It means there is a lot that is happening in the background, people are getting kickbacks, people are getting a lot of money. This is why they can insult citizens with their arms folded who demand to know the sale of these parastatal,” he said.
Source: Kwacha Celebrity Newspaper