The Grand Coalition on the People Driven Constitution making process in Eastern Province is deeply concerned and extremely worried with the continued absence of Members of Parliament in four Constituencies in Eastern Province.
The Coalition is concerned that the four constituencies Vubwi, Kasenengwa, Malambo and Petauke Central Constituencies have remained unrepresented in Parliament for a longer period of time than is prescribed in the constitution.
Maxson Nkhoma the Grand Coalition Provincial Chairperson noted with sadness that these constituencies have not effectively participated in the developed agenda of the country because of the continued absence of the area members of Parliament.
‘The absence of area members of Parliament for more than one year in some of the constituencies means that these constituencies cannot participate in legislative processes and cannot access Constituency Development Funds for micro social economic projects in the affected constituencies,’ he said.
He explained that while the Coalition appreciate the legal guidance provided by the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) who are also members of the Coalition that Article 67(1) of the current constitution that demands the holding of by-elections in 90 days for an elective vacancy once due only applies to vacancies created by resignations and deaths and not court nullifications, the coalition believes that further delays to hold Parliamentary bye elections in the affected Constituencies is tantamount to broad day light selective representation of Constituencies.
‘We note with sadness that In spite of the Electoral Act putting the conclusion of electoral petitions at 180 days, appeals cases involving the above stated Constituencies to the Supreme Court have taken too long to be disposed of hence the call by many stakeholders to establish electoral tribunal to fast track the disposal of such cases.
‘We wish to therefore appeal to Political Parties to show leadership and forego partisan interest and put the interest of People of the affected Constituencies first who have not been represented by an MP by not causing further delay in holding Parliamentary bye elections through court litigations which may further delay the holding of the elections in these Constituencies’, Nkhoma said.
He said ‘there is need to put a timeframe on when to dispose of electoral legal cases at the appeal level to facilitate the holding of such by-elections within reasonable time as the current scenario is not impressive but a violation of human rights, undemocratic and injustice of the highest level.
‘Zambia cannot afford to go into 2016 tripartite elections and experience unprecedented electoral petitions which would take years to be disposed of by the courts of law again.
‘Further, it is the Coalition’s observation that Articles 71 (3) and 72 of the current Constitution require serious scrutiny and review ahead of the 2016 elections as they cannot effectively address the current scenario on the political arena.
‘This is why the Grand Coalition has been calling for the enactment of a new Constitution which takes into account the short comings in the current Constitution. The Coalition Eastern Province is of the strong view that a new constitution will be the bedrock on which to establish a credible electoral process and governance system in Zambia without which governance controversies in the country will continue to be the order of the day. It is for this reason that Zambians should not relent in demanding for a new people driven constitution before 2016.’