Analysis: EMELDA MUSONDA
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu, in the preamble of his speech during the opening of the third session of the twelfth National Assembly last Friday, said: “I come here today cognisant of the fact that the hope of our nation rests, in greater part, with us the honourable men and women in this August House. We have the greatest power in our land. The power to shape the destiny of our country. The power to translate the dreams and hopes of our people into reality. A reality of food on the table of each household, health care and education on the doorstep of every community in a vibrant economy with a place in it for everyone.”
“Yes, we, in this House, are the hope of our people. So, we meet on this occasion to mark the official opening of the third session of the twelfth national assembly on the presumption that there is so much to be done, so much to be accomplished, and yet so little time to waste.”
This, in my view, is a very strong message worth reflecting on and embracing by our lawmakers as they represent their constituencies and the people of Zambia during debates in the August House.
We know that it is in Parliament where laws which determine the way the country is governed are made. Members of Parliament, both elected and nominated, are also responsible for approving proposals for taxation and public expenditure as well as keeping the work of Government under scrutiny and review.
It therefore goes without saying that these men and women shoulder a huge and delicate responsibility on behalf of their constituents.
Parliamentarians should be heedful to make laws that shape the destiny of the country in a positive way and debate issues in a way that places national interest or the interest of constituents first.
It is not a secret that many a time some of our lawmakers have trivialised debates in Parliament relegating the August House to a comedy arena.
In most unfortunate instances Parliament has been turned into a battlefield for settling personal or party scores.
Sadly this has been done at the expense of the poor voters who put them into office in the hope of getting representation at that high level and subsequently their hopes and dreams of a better life translated into reality.
How often have lawmakers debated for or against or indeed voted for or against a bill with the party agenda in mind as opposed to focusing on serving the people that voted for them?
This is a question that all parliamentarians need to sincerely answer in view of the President’s message.
It is not a secret that some lawmakers have been more focused on serving party agendas instead of focusing on what is good for the people in their constituencies.
For instance, lawmakers should not just support or oppose an issue based on their party inclination but should rather interrogate the merits and demerits in as far as it benefits and affects the people they represent.
They should also ensure they speak up for the people they represent. There are lawmakers who rarely or never participate in debates. Theirs is just to cheer others who speak.
But it should be known to lawmakers that they all have an obligation to speak out on issues peculiar to their constituencies. Keeping quiet is denying the people they represent a voice and an opportunity to be heard.
To re-echo President Lungu’s words, the hope of many Zambians spread across the country depend, to a large extent, on the honourable men and women in Parliament.
Parliamentarians need to be alive to the fact that there is a child somewhere in Kaputa looking up to them for education, a woman in Shangombo hoping for easy and affordable access to health care services, a farmer in Dundumwenzi yearning for inputs and easy access to the market, a family in Kanyama looking forward to decent housing, sanitation and clean water, and a widow in Chilubi struggling to put food on the table.
All these have their hope in the honourable men and women in whom much power has been vested to shape the destiny of this country.
As parliamentarians debate various issues throughout the third session, may President Lungu’s message continue to linger in their consciences and may it be a constant reminder why they are members of the August House.
It should also be a reminder that there is so much to be done and no time to waste.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.
Analysis: EMELDA MUSONDA