Zambia’s opposition National Restoration Party (NAREP) president Elias Chipimo Jr. has become the country’s first politician to “address” the make believe 1,318 member Facebook Zambian parliament after he was allowed by the “Speaker” to post his end of year message.
The Hon Speaker first posted the following message before he posted Chipimo’s speech:
Hon Members. May we welcome Hon Elias Chipimo, NAREP President to officially address this House by delivering end of year message from NAREP. As usual, the House ll proceed to debate his address.
Once we get hold of UPND President, Hon HaKainde Hichilema, and also Republican President, H. E. Michael C. Sata, we shall let them address the House.
President Chipimo, its an honour to have you in the House. You may address this august House.
Part of Chipimo's post reads:
Year-end message from the National Restoration Party (NAREP)
Looking beyond 2011: What the PF administration can start to do in its next 90 days in office
Zambia faces many challenges ranging from poor healthcare, dilapidated and inadequate infrastructure, limited access to quality education and an economy that is still not meeting the development needs of the majority of the people in spite of its strong performance over the last few years. Tackling these problems will no doubt require long-term focus, energy and vision. There are, however, 3 pressing issues that require a clear, committed and immediate response: (1) unemployment; (2) corruption; and (3) excessive presidential and executive power. Although the fight against corruption has been boosted by the PF administration, there has been a lamentable failure to find a formula for addressing each of these issues in a sustainable manner […] As far as globally defining moments go, the year 2011 belonged almost exclusively to the Arab Spring – that sense of democratic consciousness that seemed to emanate spontaneously from the streets of Tunis and spread like a virus through North Africa and the Middle East. Sub-Saharan Africa, and indeed Zambia, was not unaffected by these events. Remote though the idea may seem, the sentiments that prompted the democratic revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya were similar to those that resulted in the conclusive Patriotic Front (PF) victory on 23 September. Clearly, after 20 in power, something must went seriously wrong within the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) – the party that brought an end to UNIP’s 27 year rule.
A number of “Members of Parliament” in debating the “speech”, hailed the move to engage politicians in the virtual parliament. One member, Rodger Chali praised the opposition politician for being new media savvy:
Mr Speaker Sir, let me thank Hon. Chipimo for his submission and for being one the the leaders who understands the power of new media. Let me submit however that, Zambia is not lacking intelligent presidents , but a system which allows provinces and districts to flourish without looking to Lusaka. I would therefore wish to challenge Hon. Chipimo to champion the cause of a free Zambia from Lusaka control. This is the only agenda which will bring prosperity. If he can deliver this one issue before 2016, i can trust him to be president. Mr Speaker , I would not what to hear that the hon. can only do this if elected president.
Kasololo Chisenga said:
Hon Zapp Speaker Sir indeed presidential candidate Hon.Elias Chipimo raises some important points that are worth debati ng in the house. I am particularly taken by his suggestion of growing biofules [bio-fuel] and coming up with a ‘new economy ‘ in Z…ambia. This is indeed innovaribve and is what is expected from a youthful leader such as him. It is my hope that such ideas can be ytaken seriously to reduce the leve of unemployment in the land.
On the same issue of bio-fuel, Nicholas Mutalama added:
Hon. Speaker Sir, the exploration of bio-fuel is now extensive in the West and farmers busy utilising this initiative through government and privately funded programmes. Why does it take us so long to jump on sustainable opportunities such… as these to move forward. Sir, the previous regimes together with the current administration have focused on programmes that hardly produce anything worthy…..! This we can do or maybe just maybe, we are waiting for another investor or donor to come to our rescue when clearly through serious fiscal responsibility and accountability would give us the much needed funds for the initial investment.
Zambian People's Parliament (ZAPP) was formed shortly after the September 20 elections which saw an opposition party, the Patriotic Front (PF), unseat the ruling MMD that had been in power for 20 years. The group was formed on the back of another Facebook group, the Zambian Peoples Pact which campaigned against the former ruling party. The following is the group’s description:
The Zambian People’s Parliament (ZAPP) is a replication of the Zambian Parliament comprising a cross-section of citizens who constructively discuss, analyze, debate, persuade and agree on issues which border on democratic governance. Specifically, ZAPP is a place where citizens contribute their voice on Zambia’s democratic governance, political and socioeconomic development.
The essence of these online debates shall be to enable citizens make input into parliamentary and government’s policy and decision-making and provide a fora for issue-based discussion by politically-minded citizens, leaders in our communities and experts thus enabling the group to mold an opinion and influence decision-making.
The Mission of ZAPP is to engage citizens, leaders in parliament and government, public and private sectors in jointly setting policy direction and ensuring decisions made at all levels reflect the will of the Zambian people to be governed according to democratic tenets.
ZAPP’s Vision is a leading platform for both ordinary and empowered Zambians who freely express themselves and are heard in Zambia’s democratic governance and promotion of socioeconomic activities of the nation.