By Dante Saunders
Although I salute the opposition United Party for National Development for deciding to take party in the forthcoming parliamentary by-election in Lukulu West and Kapirimposhi, I doubt whether or not the elections will be free and fair. I hold this position because the Electoral Commission of Zambia has not provided a level playing field for political parties. It appears to me, the commission is biased towards the ruling Patriotic Front (PF).
For example, while we appreciate the electoral guidelines on how to go about the election campaigns, the commission is not readily available to enforce the laws. The people have witnessed how the ruling party go on rampage violating electoral code of conduct by way of making promises to electorates in places where elections will take place. Not long ago, the president threatened the people of Mufumbwe that his government will withhold development in the area if they refuse to vote for his candidate. For fear of losing development, the people of Mufumbwe ended up voting against their will.
In Mpongwe and Livingstone constituencies, all the campaigns characterized promises of things to electorates, violence, threats and vote buying. The commission witnessed these activities but did not to remedy the situation. As our laws stand, the perpetrators of these electoral vices deserve disqualification. Violence, voter inducement and vote buying are all serious electoral offence where if the commission was serious, parties responsible of these offices could be excluded from taking part in the elections.
I am particularly concerned with vote buying that characterized the just ended by-elections. We are aware that candidates the ruling PF fielded in all constituencies were not people’s choice. However, when elections came they all won with the same margin, which is two thousand. The figure which left many stakeholders to rise questions especially when one considers that the ruling PF is always winning the by elections by the same margin, despite the fact that, we are all aware that PF’s popularity has dropped to all time law to less than 20% of the total votes they received in the last elections. Now, PF has lost popularity on the ground while the opposition UPND is steadily gaining the support from the people fed up with the behavior of PF leadership.
In my opinion, this is the carrot, which the PF government is dangling in front of opposition Members of Parliament informing them to join the PF and assure them of victory and deputy ministerial positions. It is hard to imagine otherwise why opposition MPs has lost the principle of integrity. Whichever way, my advice to the opposition and their supporter is that let them put people of integrity in parliament. Our national assembly today needs people who will not abandon their
We need to make it clear that the current Members in PF government are enjoying the developments which were initiated but not completed by the former ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy. For instance, the current construction of Chawama Magistrate Court, Construction of Police stations at Chawama, the road works which a being completed in our townships and many more to numerous to mention.
We need to make it clear that the current Members in PF government are enjoying the developments which were initiated but not completed by the former ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy. For instance, the current construction of Chawama Magistrate Court, Construction of Police stations at Chawama, the road works which a being completed in our townships and many more too numerous to mention..
We need to put to an end this myth of saying, only MPs from the ruling party can bring development. It is not true that only MPs from ruling parties can inspire development in the country as alleged by Patriotic Front government in the recent past. For instance, Gabriel Namulambe in Mpongwe, Masebo Silvia in Chongwe, and many more have been ministers in the previous government and inspired no development in the areas they are now. PF have now now been in government for last two years now, what development has its MP taken to their constituencies? Could this be a reason why the PF government opts to appoint ministers outside the party because it has no faith it MPs? Alternatively, could this be a justification of not having credible MPs the PF could use to my serve the people of Zambia?
My understanding of such behaviour of appointing opposition is that the PF government does of have confident in its own MPs. Perhaps that is why president Sata is recruiting MPs from the whom he think will become loyal to him will be able to manipulate. My advice to him is that let him watch out, his party is being hijacked by political charlatans. I know of so many charlatans present in the ruling PF. They misled late Chiluba, Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda. After achieving their objectives, they abandoned them. Now they are driving Sata like a trolly. President will only come to know how dangerous these charlatans are after he will be left alone on the cold. President Banda is a living testimony to what am talking about.
I also want to challenge the electoral commission of Zambia to disclose the number of voters in this exercise of continuous voter registration, which was recently halted at agriculture show grounds in Lusaka. Giving out the number of registered voter will make people appreciate the role the commission is making regarding voter registration.
Further, knowing the number of registered voters will make people to stop wondering as to why the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) is winning all the by-elections by the same margin of two thousand. People particular in the opposition have been bothered by the two thousand-voter margin, which the PF have been winning since the Mufumbwe by-elections. We are waiting for outcome of the draft constitution which hope will deal with the issue on MPs crossing the floor. Our expectation is that the national constitution conference will put an end to the issue of by-elections. We also demand to know from the ECZ whether voters that died have been removed from the voter register.
The author Dante Saunders is a Political Activist