ADDRESS BY Mr LB Gaehler MP – EC in the National NCOP
Hon Chairperson and Members
The United Democratic Movement supports this budget vote and in this regard, we would like to make the following comments with regard to the enhancement of public involvement to realise meaningful participatory democracy.
Madam, Chair, Julius Nyerere once said “… we don’t develop people, people develop themselves”.
Accordingly, the United Democratic Movement, strongly holds that, participatory democracy places people at the centre of their own development thus enabling them to determine their destiny. It is a primary input for sustainable development and it deepens democracy.
In order for participatory democracy to be effective, citizens need to be empowered with all the necessary information for them to make appropriate decisions.
In this regard, we would wish to further recommend that, Parliament, deliberately creates mechanism for citizens to have access to all the laws made in this house. This access, must also mean, citizens are assisted to understand the contents and importance of those laws through an aggressive Civic Education, driven by this house.
This house and its members have a responsibility to empower citizens so that its strategic objective of increasing the levels of quality public participation are realised. Accordingly, to empower people means to enable them to elicit and increase the power they have by working as a community.
Participation is an essential part of development, it develops self-confidence, pride, initiative, creativity, responsibility, cooperation and sharing and working together. Without meaningful participation, such development is lacking and all development efforts and alleviation of poverty will be immensely difficult if not impossible. People must be enabled to take charge of their lives and solve their own problems, with government and other development agencies creating conducive environment and facilitating.
People are the heart of our Constitutional Democracy and sustainable development. We must as this house, lead in placing people as drivers of the consolidation and deepening our democracy as they dictate their path to better life.
In the words of Julius Nyerere and in appreciation of the fact that democracy and development concerns people, it affects their way of life and is influenced by their conception of the good life as determined by amongst others their cultures; we must as this house give equal priority to the development of citizens of this country. We must invest more of our time, talking the citizens about our work, their role and responsibilities.
In this way, Madam Chair, we shall be able to put into practice, what the Presiding Officers of this 5th Democratic Parliament referred to in their foreword of the Strategic Plan, 2014-19, that “Parliament exist to represent people and to ensure their INVOLVEMENT in government processes”.
I thank you