Press Statement on Mourning the Late President Michael Chilufya Sata – 4th November, 2014

The Southern African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) would like to reiterate its appeal to all ruling Patriotic Front (PF) members and all citizens of the Republic of Zambia to mourn late President Michael Chilufya Sata with dignity and honour. These essentially entail that everyone must put aside their political differences and ensure that we continue to mourn the late President in unity and peace. We want to appeal to the ruling PF to avoid engaging into unnecessary politicking which may show disrespect to the late President and thereby cause confusion to the ruling party and ultimately the country.
The right time to engage into politicking will come; therefore, there is need for all members of the ruling party to exercise utmost restraint and patience so that we honor Zambia’s culture of respecting the dead. Zambia is bigger than any interest groups and we therefore need to act in the interest of the country so that we ensure that unity and peace prevails. Everybody is looking up to the ruling party to manage this transition period smoothly and the first step is to ensure that we mourn our President in the right way. Thereafter, we shall be able to look at how we can be able to put in place a political leadership that will drive this country forward in peace.
As SACCORD we hope that the ruling PF will now be able to continue guiding the nation to mourn our departed President in unity and peace.

Boniface Cheembe
Executive Director
SACCORD

Statement on Remembering the Legacy of Mr Bonnie Tembo Former AVAP Executive Director -12th November, 2014

The Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) and civil society will today join the family of the late Anti-Voter Apathy Project (AVAP) Executive Director Mr Bonnie Tembo in putting him to rest. Our heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr Tembo and indeed to the whole civil society fraternity at the loss of one of the pioneers of governance civil society in the Republic of Zambia. Mr Bonnie Tembo will leave behind a legacy of having contributed to the strengthening of Zambia’s democracy by promoting voter education and election monitoring. He will be fondly remembered as someone who cared for the grassroots who were in need of information in order for them to participate effectively in Zambia’s democratic dispensation.

As Zambia today begins the process of preparing for the presidential by-election, it is important that civil society honors Mr Tembo’s contribution by participating effectively in providing civic and voter education. Furthermore, by ensuring that preparations for the monitoring of the by-election are put in place so that we encourage people to vote “en masse” as Mr Bonnie Tembo would have always advocated. It will also be incumbent upon civil society to encourage a politics of ideas that will move away from that of character assassination and violence which contribute to voter apathy as voters feel intimidated and threatened.

May Mr Bonnie Tembo’s Soul Rest in Eternal Peace.

Boniface Cheembe
Executive Director

SACCORD Press Statement on the Presidential Elections – 23rd December, 2014

The Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) would like to encourage political parties to continue conducting their campaigns in a peaceful manner and strive by all means to ensure that party members and supporters abide by the provisions of the laws which govern elections in the country. As the campaign mood begins to heat up, political parties in their efforts to subdue political opponents and win over voters will likely engage in all sorts of actions some which might violate the law. We therefore want all leaders to ensure that they remain fully in charge of people who will be campaigning on their behalf. The leaders must in the same vain consider themselves responsible for actions of their supporters and that Zambians will not only judge the direct offenders but will also hold beneficiaries responsible for the violations.

SACCORD also regrets the incidence at the PF rally in Kabwe when an alleged supporter of PF president Lungu engaged in politics of character assassination against the UPND President. As SACCORD we wish to acknowledge the apology issued by the Acting President and the PF secretary General to the UPND President for the inappropriate language used against him in Kabwe-we hope the PF Party President will also condemn such conduct. Campaigns based on verbal abuse do not help the people of Zambia have a clear basis on which to judge Presidential candidates. Political rallies should be used as a platform for political parties to sell their ideals, ideas and manifestos to the members of the public so that they can make an informed decision on who they should vote for. We urge our leaders, both in opposition and government, to look out for divisive characters so that they do not spoil their images just in the interest of pleasing them. Political leaders should be made to account for their promises during campaigns; therefore, the issue of focusing on ideas cannot be overemphasized.

We have also noted with concern the views from various members of the public who feel that these elections may be compromised as a result of the involvement of third parties whose roles are not clear but may be interested to benefiting a certain candidate. We would like to urge the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to ensure that it continues to build stakeholder confidence in the electoral process by ensuring that all their actions are transparent. We also note the positive improvements that the commission has continued to make in ensuring that suspicions are reduced whenever there are elections.

SACCORD also urges the stakeholders in the electoral process to ensure that these elections are properly monitored. We urge NGOs and Political parties that will deploy monitors to ensure that only genuine people are engaged so that the outcome of the coming elections is determined by the decisions of the voters not a few individuals who may want to benefit from the current system. The Zambian people must look out for such and ensure that they do not tamper with the will of the people.

Finally we would like to wish all the people in Zambia a peaceful festive period and a violent free campaign period in the lead up to the 20th January 2015 elections.

Boniface Cheembe
Executive Director
SACCORD

30th December 2014 – SACCORD Reflections 2014

As the year 2014 comes to a close, the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) would like to reflect on some of the failures, challenges and achievements of the year and our hopes and aspirations for the year 2015. The year under review has recorded a lot of mixed situations. Our reflections will largely be on the areas of work that SACCORD does and the issues that most Zambians hold dear which may have been done or not by the government including other stakeholders such as political parties, the media, civil society and the church.

On a positive note we noted the continued implementation of the infrastructure development program which the PF embarked on upon getting to power in 2011. A number of roads were completed with a lot more still being worked on during the year. We also note great efforts made in building clinics, expanding hospitals and building of more schools. We believe this was good for national development. We also noted the continued efforts to improve the plight of women and children. The appointments of more women to key government positions also brought about a clear commitment on the part of the government that they intend to carry everyone along on the national development agenda. The country also witnessed the launch of the revised decentralization policy which is expected to improve service delivery. For the major part of the year, the country also maintained inflation and improved the environment for doing business.

However, the country also faced a lot of challenges which the government could have done better in ensuring that they were addressed. It is clear that the illness of the President and his subsequent untimely death brought a lot of negative developments in the governance and development programs of the Patriotic Front (PF). We noticed poor supervision and implementation of programs by government officials while President Sata was unwell. This brought to the fore the question of our political parties clearly requiring a proper succession plan to avoid the kind of stalemate and confusion that characterized the ruling PF. As SACCORD we also note that succession plans in some of the opposition political parties are required. However, as SACCORD we want to recommend that succession plans must not depart from democratic principles so that all members that want to aspire for positions in a given party are allowed to do so without discrimination.

The PF government also handled the constitution making process in a poor manner as the country did not yet again have a new people driven constitution. The country witnessed in 2014 the need to have new constitutions not only at the national level, but also at the level of political parties owing to the many internal succession wrangles in the ruling and some opposition political parties on account of their party constitutions. The human rights situation was also getting poor with people’s freedoms of association, assembly and expression being disrespected by state agents. The country also saw poor administration of the Farmer Input Support Program with farmers not being paid on time for their produce supplied to government. Zambia further witnessed an increase in political violence which was largely due to the failure by the police to rein in cadres from the ruling PF.

The period also witnessed a deterioration in the state-church relations which was not healthy for unity in the country. The country further saw poor economic practices which saw the kwacha losing value and affecting a lot of businesses. The government policies of removing subsidies also resulted in the increase in the cost of doing business thereby affecting prices of essential commodities negatively. In all there was increased dishonest and intolerance to divergent views by those in government who used state agencies to fight their critics and political opponents.

As we draw into the year 2015, we would like to see a clear improvement in the governance, economics, political and social spheres of the country. The rights of all people in Zambia must be respected and protected by the government. We need a new constitution in 2015 and above all, job creation for a lot of the youths in Zambia who despite being well qualified still lack jobs. The new government must also improve its relations with the business community and not only with a few companies or individuals that have been working with some officials in government. We believe that with the correct leadership and policies, Zambia can overcome the challenges that we have seen in the past and move fast on the road to poverty alleviation and development. It is the responsibility of every Zambian to make sure that the correct leadership is put in place as we go to the 20th January 2015 elections.

Boniface Cheembe
Executive Director
SACCORD

THE POST – 25 Dec 2014 -Politicians should be made to account for promises – SACCORD By Fridah Nkonde

SACCORD says campaigns based on verbal abuse do not help Zambians have a clear basis on which to judge presidential candidates.

Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes executive director Boniface Cheembe yesterday said political parties should utilise political rallies to sell their ideals, ideas and manifestos to the public so that they could make informed decisions on who they should vote for.

“We urge our leaders, both in opposition and government, to look out for divisive characters so that they do not spoil their images just in the interest of pleasing them,” Cheembe said in a statement released in Lusaka yesterday. “Political leaders should be made to account for their promises during campaigns. Therefore, the issue of focusing on ideas cannot be overemphasised.”

Cheembe said SACCORD had noted with concern the views from various members of the public who felt the January 20, 2015 election might be compromised as a result of the involvement of third parties whose roles were not clear.

He said there was need for political parties to continue conducting their campaigns in a peaceful manner and strive by all means to ensure that party members and supporters abide by the provisions of electoral laws.

“As the campaign mood begins to heat up, political parties in their efforts to subdue political opponents and win over voters will likely engage in all sorts of actions, some which might violate the law. We therefore want all leaders to ensure that they remain fully in charge of people who will be campaigning on their behalf. The leaders must in the same vein consider themselves responsible for actions of their supporters and that Zambians will not only judge the direct offenders but will also hold beneficiaries responsible for the violations,” he said.

Cheembe said SACCORD regretted the incident at a PF rally in Kabwe, where a supporter of PF candidate Edgar Lungu engaged in politics of character assassination against UPND president Hakainde Hichilema.

Cheembe hoped Lungu would also condemn such conduct.

And Cheembe urged the Electoral Commission of Zambia to ensure that it continues to build stakeholder confidence in the electoral process by ensuring that all their actions are transparent.

“We also note the positive improvements that the commission has continued to make in ensuring that suspicions are reduced whenever there are elections. We urge NGOs and political parties that will deploy monitors to ensure that only genuine people are engaged,” said Cheembe.
– See more at: http://www.postzambia.com/news.php?id=4819#sthash.qvxmILgI.dpuf

THE POST – 31 Dec 2014 Mbulakulima blames MMD wrangles on ‘selfish people’ By Chambwa Moonga

WRANGLES that have rocked the MMD have more to do with selfishness on the part of some party members than the constitution, says acting national secretary Mwansa Mbulakulima.

Commenting on the call by Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) executive director, Boniface Cheembe, that there is need for political parties to review their party constitutions to address intra-party conflicts, Mbulakulima, who is also Chembe member of parliament, said the MMD constitution was very clear.

“I expected SACCORD to have come and had a chat with MMD on whether the wrangles are arising from the constitution because our constitution is as clear as itself. I don’t know whether they are taking into account the human factor; the selfishness of a human being, how power-hungry a human being is,” said Mbulakulima in an interview yesterday.

He added that the wrangles in MMD were because of some people who had pushed for the return to active politics of former Republican president Rupiah Banda.

“If you look at MMD, for instance, it’s a stand-alone party, the party has a clear direction but some members have decided… when they called the former president (Banda) to come back into the party and stand as president, I don’t know whether this is the constitution. So, it’s the human element and not the constitution SACCORD is talking about,” he said.

“We stood on the platform to defend our constitution but some of our members, when we were fighting for justice, they went off and for me, this is lack of principles; it has nothing to do with the constitution but the selfishness of individuals. Constitutions must be respected, yes, but it’s more of the human element than the law.”

Mbulakilima, however, admitted that because of the dynamics of politics, the MMD constitution needed to have some of its clauses reviewed, but that such should not be done to suit the wishes of individuals.

Cheembe on Monday said political parties needed to review their constitutions to make them effective instruments of conflict resolution.

“We believe that in an effort to ensure intra-party democracy, there is need for all political parties in our country to review very quickly and take it as an urgent matter the issue of their party constitutions so that any party member is given an opportunity to vie for any party position,” said Cheembe.
– See more at: http://www.postzambia.com/news.php?id=5050#sthash.hTsK6Ger.dpuf

Political Violence Amongest Cadres

If reports from Mongu over the UPND and PF cadres clashing are true, it is unfortunate and we as SACCORD condemn this as well. The violence now appears to spreading throughout the country. It started in Lusaka, then it went to Muchinga and now we are getting reports from Western Province. The pattern of violence also makes interesting reading. In provinces that appear to be strongholds of certain political cadres, it seems that cadres from that particular political party are the ones that attack those who may not be so strong. However, we believe that a political party stronghold should not be used as a basis to engage into political violence as violence only breeds violence and does not help resolve the problems that the people of Zambia are currently facing.

As SACCORD, we believe that the more we continue to receive reports of violence on a daily basis the more that these campaigns which have largely been peaceful will be overshadowed. Instead of focusing on issues that candidates need to offer we shall be focusing on the victims of violence, addressing their trauma, and how our law enforcement agencies need to bring such culprits to book. Therefore, in order to avoid violence being a destruction our political leaders must investigate these cases of violence allegedly committed by their cadres and ultimately discipline those who are found wanting. This must be done in conjunction with our law enforcement agencies who equally need to investigate such cases and bring the perpetrators of violence to book. We also want to appeal to our law enforcement agencies to give frequent updates on the status of these investigations so that the public is confident that something is being done about violence. We expect our political leaders to condemn violence and if it is true that in Mongu alleged UPND cadres were responsible for the fracas we expect the top leadership within the party to condemn the violence with the contempt it deserves.

Filing of Presidential Nominations

cropped-saccord_header3.jpgThe filing of presidential nominations has started on a very peaceful note and as SACCORD we hope that this trend will continue. Congratulations to those who filed successfully yesterday and those who will be soon. Just as the campaigns have been characterized by peace thus far it is our hope that even the filing of nominations will be largely characterized by peace.

As SACCORD we also hope that the internal wrangles in some political parties will be resolved soon so that all political parties can be clear in terms of which candidates will represent all political parties. This is required so that the confusion that confronts the electorate in terms of which candidates are standing on which political parties can be addressed.