Zambians encouraged to scrutinize electoral promises ahead of August polls
By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Electoral campaigns kicked off in Zambia last week in the run up to the nation’s general elections slated for 12 August. At least 19 candidates are pitched to run against incumbent President Edgar Lungu for the number one position.
As Zambians count down to the election date, the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), in a statement on Monday, highlighted that the polls will be held “against a backdrop of huge public debt”, amounting to an estimated US $20.46 billion, as at December last year.
JCTR, therefore, urged the electorate “not to be hoodwinked, but to analyze and interrogate the campaign messages to determine their practicability and viability” as it is imperative that all candidates presenting themselves for election “demonstrate how they are going to address this debt crisis to ensure improved social service provision throughout the country.”
Candidates must provide a convincing road map
“It is not enough for the aspiring candidates to end at promising paradise to the electorates, which as we know is impossible in the face of the huge debt Zambia has,” JCTR said in the statement attributed to Fr. Alex Muyebe, SJ., the Center’s Executive Director.
Instead, the candidates must provide a “convincing road map on the way forward regarding the current debt and explain how they are going to manage future debt contractions” in order to avoid another debt crisis in the future.
During this campaign, insisted JCTR, “aspiring political leaders must articulate economic growth programs that respond to the needs of the poor and the vulnerable and how as leaders they are going to contribute to the common good and the preservation of human dignity of every Zambian.”
Appeal to the media
As the elections approach, JCTR appealed to the media to be instrumental in informing and educating the public on key issues including the nation’s public debt, in order to “enhance the electorate’s capacity to challenge aspiring presidential candidates to explain how they will manage the country’s debt crisis if elected, or if re-elected on 12th August.”
“The media is very critical in building the electorate’s capacity to cast their vote based on issues and from an informed perspective,” the statement said, adding that it is key to allowing democracy in the country to “come of age.”