‘TALK to the people, walk with the people’ this is how President Hakainde Hichilema summarised yesterday’s Radio Phoenix engagement with members of the public.
The engagement is historical. It has never happened in the history of Zambia where a Republican President makes an appearance on a live radio programme to respond to questions from members of the public on any issue, without fear of being followed by security/government officers or indeed the infamous political cadres.
This is what is needed. To drive the development agenda, one should take everybody on board.
Such interactions, commits the President and his administration to fulfill their campaign promises to the people while allowing citizens to hold them accountable.
Mr Hichilema has honoured one of his election promises, to engage the public on national issues, and yesterday’s appearance, which was also aired live on other radio stations as well as online platforms, tackled concerns on equal opportunities for land ownership (which should be available to Zambians), trading/business, agriculture and a free media, among other issues.
This is part of the commitment to change the culture. This is not only inspiring to the ordinary citizen to interrogate the Head of State without any censorship, but also allows the President to interact with members of the public and offer them first hand information on governance issues.
On the programme, Mr Hichilema indicated that opportunities are bound, law and order should apply in all areas and that the law knows no political party in transactions. He assures that a remedial move is to protect citizens from internal thugs.
With such engagements, members of the public will have first hand information, because this eliminates the rumour mill and puts spanners on the round-up of the day’s gossip because the whole country will be better informed with the same information as opposed to the usual ‘he said, he said’.
Like Mr Hichilema puts it, the President should not be prevented from knowing what the people are saying, and the media should not be gagged but self regulate and exhibit professionalism, fairness, responsible and present facts in a balanced manner.
He has promised continuous engagements on any radio station and hold Press conferences because hearing and knowing what the people are saying is important.
The President also emphasizes on working together.
Citizens should be relieved that this is just one of the many interactions with the Head of State and they should seize the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns.
Place a call and express your opinion.