*Contact* : UPND Chair, Policy and Research, Joseph Lungu
I wish to assure all my fellow Zambian citizens that UPND President, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, widely known as HH, is ready and adequately prepared to shoulder the functions and responsibilities of the Republican president prescribed in the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 and in subsidiary pieces of legislation.
First and foremost, President Hichilema, in exercise of the executive authority of the State, will adhere to the following provisions excerpted and adapted from Clause 3 of Article 91 of the current Constitution of Zambia:
(a) Respect, uphold and safeguard our country’s Constitution;
(b) Safeguard the sovereignty of the Republic of Zambia;
(c) Promote democracy and enhance the unity of the Nation;
(d) Respect the diversity of the different communities of our country, as well as consider the appointment of citizens from a diversity of ethnic, gender and racial segments of Zambian society;
(e) Promote and protect the rights and freedoms of all citizens and of all visitors to our Motherland; and
(f) Uphold the rule of law, as well as promote the existence of non-discriminatory laws, and push for law enforcement organs of the government that are efficient, impartial, independent, and legitimate.
In addition to upholding the rule of law, President Hichilema is also abundantly aware of the need to put into practice all the other elements of good governance, which include the following:
(a) Accountability—that is, availability of a mechanism for ensuring that public officials are directly and fully liable for the outcomes of their decisions and actions, and the appropriation of resources assigned to them;
(b) Transparency—that is, public access to information about the state, its decision-making mechanisms, and its current and contemplated projects and programmes—except for state secrets and matters relating to public officials’ right to privacy;
(c) Citizen participation—that is, availability of channels and mechanisms through which the citizenry and non-governmental institutions can have an influence on governmental decision-making processes and the behaviour and actions of public officials both directly and through their representatives in Parliament; and
(d) A free press, whose functions in a democratic country like ours include serving as a watchdog to the three organs of the government, informing the public about issues which are of national interest, serving as a medium of communication that guarantees free and open debate and discussion among citizens, influencing public opinion through impartial and fair analysis of issues affecting the country and its people, serving the economic system through sponsored advertisements designed to bring buyers and sellers into contact with each other, and serving as a medium for entertaining the public.
Accordingly, President Hichilema will be guided by the foregoing principles and Constitutional provisos in tending to the other important functions and responsibilities stipulated in Article 91, Article 92, Article 96, and other Articles of the Constitution of Zambia with dignity, leadership and integrity.
These functions and responsibilities include the following:
(a) Preside over national affairs as the country’s Head of State and Government, and as Commander-in-Chief of the various units of the Defence Force;
(a) Appoint ambassadors, high commissioners, plenipotentiaries, diplomatic representatives, and consuls;
(b) Receive and accredit foreign ambassadors, high commissioners, plenipotentiaries, diplomatic representatives, consuls, and heads of international organisations;
(c) Negotiate and sign international agreements and treaties and, subject to the approval of the National Assembly, ratify or accede to international agreements and treaties;
(d) Establish, merge and/or dissolve Government ministries, subject to the approval of the National Assembly;
(e) Confer honours upon deserving citizens and non-citizens residing within and outside Zambia;
(f) Initiate Bills for submission to, and consideration by, the National Assembly;
(g) Appoint the Secretary to the Cabinet, Attorney-General, Solicitor-General, Director of Public Prosecutions, Investigator-General, puisne judges, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Industrial Relations Court, and the Auditor-General in consultation with relevant organs of government and subject to ratification by the National Assembly; and
(h) Appoint members of an Advisory Committee on the prerogative of mercy which shall advise him on actions and/or decisions to be taken in granting relief to any deserving person convicted of an offence by a court or court-martial.
Besides, we are all aware of the numerous socioeconomic issues and matters which President Hichilema’s administration will have to tackle after the elections scheduled to be held on August 12, 2021, including the creation for a more effective and efficient national government, providing for greater access to education and training, providing for merit-based scholarships for vocational training and university education, providing for low-interest educational loans, providing for an efficient and effective healthcare system, providing for greater and sustained food security, and creation of greater employment opportunities.
Other important issues and matters which the new administration is geared to address include public infrastructure, garbage collection and disposal, socioeconomic conditions in rural areas, electricity tariffs and interruptions in the supply of electricity, the scourge of corruption, the needs of street children and the handicapped, the preservation and protection of our country’s fragile natural environment, and implementation of projects and programmes initiated by President Edgar Lungu and the Patriotic Front in our country’s 10 provinces.
Needless to say, the Patriotic Front assumed the reins of power in September 2011, but the socioeconomic conditions facing the majority of citizens have continued to worsen during the 10 years the ruling political party has been in power. And, unfortunately, the gifts and donations in the form of cash, bicycles, automobiles, and mealie meal which President Lungu and the Patriotic Front are dishing out will not solve the prevailing socioeconomic problems facing the country and its people.
Voters who have the interest of our beloved country and its people at heart, therefore, will need to guard themselves against giving the Patriotic Front and Dr. Lungu another term of office later this year. There is really nothing meaningful which the party can do over the next 5 years that will address the backlog of unfulfilled promises.
UPND MEDIA TEAM