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Zambia: Has the 90 Days Promise Been Fulfilled?

Zambia’s President Michael Sata’s government reached its landmark 90 days in government on December 23, a period his Patriotic Front party promised it would turn around people’s lives and improve general governance. 

Sata’s defeated the MMD which had been in power for 20 years after promising the electorate more money in their pockets and delivery of a new constitution, among other things, in 90 days. Netizens on various social networking sites have been assessing the new government’s achievements, if any, and failures.

Satire columnist, Kalaki’s Corner, captured an imaginary exchange between the president and the first lady:

 

Artistic depiction of Michael Sata as Zambia's Black Moses. Image source: 90 Days Countdown Facebok group.

I had nearly finished my toast and marmalade when he finally appeared, flicking specks of invisible dust from his lapel. ‘Good morning, darling,’ I said.

‘If you say so,’ he replied. ‘What’s in the papers this morning?’

The Boast has got a long editorial…’

‘That’s nothing new,’ he chuckled, ‘It always has a long editorial. Nobody to edit the editor, that’s the problem.’

‘Ninety days of broken promises.’

‘What did you say dear?’

‘That’s the title of the editorial. Ninety days of broken promises.’

‘Would you mind, my dear,’ he replied, ‘pouring me a cup of tea.’

‘Ninety days of broken promises,’ I repeated, as I poured him a cup to tea.

‘Who’s been breaking their promises?’

‘You, my dearest. He’s talking about you.’

He hung his head for a moment. Then looked up, and looked me straight in the eye. I’m very worried. Everybody will be talking about it.’

On the Facebook group, Zambia People’s Parliament (ZAPP), the 90-day promise did not escape debate by the “Honourable Members”. One member, Sidique Abdullah Gondwe Geloo, suggested a public march with people expressing their personal experience in the three months of the new government:

Mr Speaker sir,after much consultative counsel with both people of high profile and laymen, I proposed and stick to the following”The 90Days Promise Progress Check Match.” They campaigned, we listened; they promised, we believed; elections came, we voted. Now we ask, “How far have we come?” Join us in a Match to mark the 90days of PF in power. Bring your placard, happy or sad. Share your views, popular or unpopular.” Do I believe this match will yield fruit? In more ways than one.The government will get the message that we as a people are nolonger the gullible bunch that they feel can tremble or fear to stand up against false promises made.

On another Facebook group, The 90 days Countdown, Ebron Ngoma dismissed calls for a march:

My experiences in Zambia with demos. No one takes particula attention to detail as to why they are protesting. Today We are making noise about 90days ,so far no one has come up with a clear list of what pf promised to deliver in 90days. We need to be more inteligent than merely exciting pipo. Am a firm believer of making a politician accountable and no one wil ever change my views on accountability. If we dont have a list of the promises, we are as gud as leting it pass. A list of promises pipo, then am in. We need a clear roadmap on how we whant to do this, not just excitement. A youth who refuses to learn from the past will never be guaranteed of success. Lets NOT DEMOSTRATE because we want to, we need a CLEAR OBJECTIVE,then you will have the whole Zambian youth with you on that day. Politicians cannot be fought by shadow boxing-they must know that we are watching with intelegence.I INSIST -A LIST OF PF PROMISES vs ACHIEVEMENTS.

Most of the readers’ reactions to a story on the Zambian Watchdog quoting Information Minister Given Lubinda, the Chief Government Spokesman, saying that the Vice President Guy Scott would present a statement to Parliament detailing the achievements of the PF government in the first 90 days of its rule, did not spare government on backtracking on its campaign promises. One reader, Pimbi Mano wrote:

Mr Lubinda,please let the Zambians be the judges of your performance.You can not be your own judge and jury,the Zambia people have the right to analyse your performance in the last 90 days and give you a mark.

My mark so far is 1% just for keeping Zambia so far-but you have failed the rest.Your Cabinet is the worst since independence.Nobody knows what your long-term policies are. The only people who know what you are trying to do are the kaponyas [street vendors]-who have no idea of what they are doing in the first place.

Theb economy is in danger of not growing as fast as it grew in in the last 5 years. Look at the Zambian kwacha and see how it is doing.How real jobs have you created so far-noone.The truth is that you will not create any jobs during the next five years.

Your foreign policy is a mess.Angola,Malawi and evening Mozamabique are really not happy with you. You said you did not want any investment from China and now you are talking to China.

Mr Lubinda,please do not waste your time with a parliamentary statement-Zambians everywhere are watching.Remember every dog has its time.

However, one reader, Twesheko supported the PF government:

I am so surprised people made a big thing out of the 90 days remark. Seriously, how can you believe in such political statements? This was just an empty political statement – the PF is in power not because of the 90 day thing – actually, the Vice President should not even say anything about achieving promisses in 90 days – this is because PF won as result of the long term strategic plans that they have outlined in their manifesto which you will start seeing in the 2013 budget. So far so good. Mineral Royalty tax has increase, there is Tax Relief on PAYE, cleaning up the fuel procurement process – fuel reduced, minimum wage to be revised per sector in consultation with all – the 90 days have been useful but are not the most important thing.

There were also questions about the 90 day promise on Twitter. One such entry read:

@sandakc: Michael Sata gave himself a 90-day honeymoon to turn #Zambia around, a deadline that expires Friday. Has he delivered on his 90-day promise?

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