By NCHIMUNYA MIYOBA
Lufwanyama District Commissioner Miniva Mutesa says government will continue to come up with measures aimed at addressing poverty and inequalities that arise from vulnerability.
Ms Mutesa said in an effort to bring development that leaves no one behind, government has embarked on the decentralization policy development that will address poverty levels among citizens.
Speaking during the launch of the Strengthening Accountability Programme II (SAP 2) a Swedish funded project and managed Diakonia, Ms Mutesa said government is aware that engagement between rights holders and duty bearers is cardinal for accountability and development which encompasses the aspirations of the citizens.
Ms Mutesa emphasized that it is governments desire to engage its citizens and hear their views on how resources can be used for their benefit.
She that it is government’s’ wish that the corporate world and various mining firms can commit more resources towards developing the district and improving the lives of the people.
And Embassy of Sweden First Secretary for Democratic Governance, Social Protection Jonas Wikstrom said the Swedish government has line up programmes that will be introduced around the country to help eradicate poverty and to improve lives of every Zambian especially those living in poor communities.
Mr Wikstrom said the Swedish government believes that the SAP 2 programme will bring enhanced cooperation between stakeholders in the district and will build the system of accountability so that communities around Lufwanyama can voice out their concerns and engage with duty bearers.
He implored the private sector to take responsibility so that the economic activities in the district also benefit the citizens.
He noted that the support of this programme will lead to economic and social development that is sustainable and inclusive.
‘’We have seen the good results of the programme in other districts where phase one started. Roads, clinics and schools have been built not forgetting the women who have benefited from women empowerment programmes,’’ he said.
Meanwhile Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Vice Chairperson Hyde Haguta said there is need for citizens to access information that affects communities adding that access to information will enable people to actively participate in programmes taking place in the areas they live.
Mr Haguta said MISA Zambia wants to empower citizens with knowledge which later help them hold duty bearers to account.
Mr Haguta said since Lufwanyama is the biggest gems stone area in the country, there is need people to benefit from its natural resources.
He said despite the having the minerals the area has remained poor because have continued to sell the mineral resource from outside the country depriving the communities hence the launch of the SAP2 which is aimed at empowering communities
‘’We want you to know what you have in the district. Once you have the knowledge you will be able to hold leaders and people that come to do mining in the area accountable and in turn you will benefit from the natural resource. You must start to demand for your share,’’ he said.
Speaking earlier Diakonia Sweden-Zambia Country Office Nkula Edward Goma said Diakonia is aware of the weak systems and mechanisms of transparency, accountability and community participation in the mining sector particularly for community benefits and revenues remitted to the local authorities.
Mr Goma noted that there was still a lot that needs to be done in strengthening citizen participation, enhancing equity, transparency and accountability in the national resource allocation particularly for rural areas.
He said the launch of the programme is aimed at empowering citizens in rich natural resource areas of Zambiaso as to have increased access to resources through engagement with the corporate and public sectors.
He added that to achieve this, a holistic and integrated approach needs to be done to cover aspects of gender equity, empowerment of women, community benefits and improved service delivery and good governance.
He revealed that the SAP2 will be implemented in four provinces of the country namely, North-western, Copperbelt, Southern and Luapula.