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Observations: It is high time we had a press conference

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By Barbrah Musamba Chama Mumba

23rd September 2011 will mark exactly two years since President Michael Sata was sworn in by Chief Justice Ernest Sakala as the fifth President for the Republic of Zambia after defeating the incumbent Rupiah Banda in the 20th September 2011 general elections.

It was during the swearing in ceremony that President Sata addressed the nation and gave insights of how he will govern the nation. The second and last time was when he attended church service at a Catholic church in Lusaka soon after the elections where he promised to ‘rule’ the nation on the foundation of the biblical Ten Commandments.

Since then the President has never addressed the nation on various issues. He has not had any press or news conference to give assurances that the country is on course to meeting various promises the PF government had committed itself to.

The only times that Michael Sata has come out and said something to the nation is during the hiring and firing of various government officials. During these ceremonies the President has derided at opposition leaders about their hair styles or wealth but nothing has ever been said on the state of the nation.

This does not show that the he actually cares about his masters who are the citizens of Zambia and the electorate.

He should bear in mind that as at the last general elections on which mandate he is President, 57% of those who voted did not vote for him. He treads a thin line on governance of the republic. No amount of MP ‘buying’ will alter that.

The President ought to understand that he begged for votes from the Zambian electorate to be Head of State. He is the custodian of the Zambian resources on behalf of Zambians.

He is obliged to tell the Zambians what the State of the nation is at certain intervals of his presidency because Zambia is not his but for us all Zambians. The moment Michael Sata realises this, the better for us all.

At the moment it seems the country is run on auto pilot. There is no sense of direction as to where the ‘boat’ is headed to.

There have been a lot of events that have occurred that the Zambian people deserve to be addressed by the father of the nation. These events are occurring every day.

For instance when more than fifty people lost their lives in the Chibombo road accident early this year, the president should have been the first person to address the nation in his personal capacity as President of the Republic of Zambia.

He should be showing his concern at the high number of loss of life in a single road accident. He is the custodian of every life in Zambia.

Press conferences are a good way of communicating to the nation even if it is stage managed. Journalists from various media institutions interact with the ordinary Zambian in the street and they also meet various people from different walks of life.

They have a feel of what is pertaining in the country from an unbiased point of view other than those of the intelligence or various organs of government who would be doing their job to please their masters.

Journalists are there to ask the President questions being asked on the streets of Zambia that the head of state should give answers to.

The electorate deserve to be told where the country is heading to other than speculate on issues that answers can easily be given. The President should realise that as head of state his family is now bigger, as head of family he needs assuring and informing us on what is going on.

The country needs to know what is happening with the many commissions of inquiry that he set up. These include the Barotseland, Energy, the Zamtel commissions of inquiry and the constitution review committee.

The effects of subsidy removal, the budget over run, inadequate electricity supply, the state of Zambian roads, hospitals, inadequate health and education personnel, the foreign policy, the construction of his retirement house before he retires though potentially having another eight years before he is eligible for retirement, these are but some of the many issues the Zambians need answers on.

Speculations about his health are mounting, the nation needs assuring that he is in good health. If he is unwell the country deserves to be told the truth. Many Zambians would pray for him and wish him well.

If his shying away from the media is due to poor health or unable to articulate issues on a more technical level then Zambians have been short changed.

We deserve a fully functional president and not a figure like head of state as is the case in a monarchy. The phases and opportunities that we pass through in life only occur once it is for this reason that at every given opportunity we need the best to govern the country and a fully functional head of state not a part time one.

It is my humble appeal that the President reconsiders his position on press or news conferences other than leaving such matters through press statements that are in most instances mediocre.

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31