Editor's Comment

Critics becoming irrelevant


CHIEF Mibenge is right in advising President Edgar Lungu not to pay attention to people who unnecessarily criticise Government’s development agenda.
The traditional leader is right because most of the criticism President Lungu has been subjected to since becoming Head of State has been unfair and misplaced.
Take, for instance, the robust road infrastructure programme the Patriotic Front (PF) administration has embarked on since 2011.
Instead of commending Government for improving connectivity throughout the country, President Lungu’s critics say people cannot eat roads.
They chose to ignore the benefits of good roads. In Lusaka, residents can attest to what a good road network can do because they can now travel within the vast district quickly and effortlessly.
Farmers from far-flung areas such as Mikango, Chongwe, Lusaka West and Shimabala deliver their produce to the markets in good time, and workers report early for work.
Therefore, good roads have contributed to enhancing productivity.
Elsewhere, roads have made a crucial contribution to the economic development of the country and growth by bringing important social benefits such as employment, bringing health and education services closer to the people.
This is besides opening up more rural areas of the country, thus stimulating economic and social development.
Oddly, some of the critics on roads, are the major users and beneficiaries.
Before the 2016 elections, some politicians were promising to amend the constitution and introduce clauses such as the 50 percent plus one vote threshold for one to win the Presidency.
They also pledged to enact a Presidential running mate clause and to have the election date enshrined in the statues.
But when President Lungu delivered the constitution to include such clauses, the same critics continued on their path of distraction, claiming enough had not been done.
Yet they actually should have been commending the President because he went beyond some of the expectations.
Under his watch, President Lungu has facilitated the enactment of mayoral and council chairperson elections to ensure that the people directly vote for local government leaders.
He also cut down on the size of Government by doing away with the positions of deputy ministers, who were deemed excess.
Despite all this, the critics chose to keep quiet instead of commending President Lungu for being a listening Head of State. Worse still, they continue on their fault-finding quest.
The Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), too, has also been criticised as a drain on the treasury as well as making farmers perpetually dependant on the State.
Yet, FISP is the life-line of peasant farmers. Small-scale farmers are key contributors to bumper harvests Zambia has had in recent years. It is because of FISP that Zambia is food secure and earns foreign currency through exports of the grain.
So instead of blindly calling for the scraping off of the programme, critics should be providing reasonable suggestions on how to continually improve it.
Critics are also notorious for saying President Lungu is inconsiderate of people in rural areas that lag in development.
The opposite is true. A well thought out decentralisation programme has seen the establishment of more districts. This is helping to bring services closer to more people in rural areas.
The pace of development may not be as fast as desired, but in some instances the critics are the ones to blame. From the comfort of their air-conditioned offices, homes and cars in Lusaka, they discourage their elected leaders to work with government on government programmes.
All they see is lack of priorities and cite the decentralisation innovation as another drain on the national treasury.
Such critics may be forgiven because they have never been to some of the rural areas which are now districts to look at how people there suffer.
The biggest problem with criticism by some opposition political parties and civil society organisations is that it is driven by emotions and based on fault finding.
What this country needs is constructive criticism which should keep Government in check.
Zambians are craving for valuable checks and balances and not criticising just for the sake of wanting to be seen to be relevant or for political mileage.
That is why Chief Mibenge is justified in advising President Lungu not to pay attention to people who unnecessarily criticise Government’s development agenda.
The President should focus on the task at hand and deliver according to the mandate he has from the people of Zambia.

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