ILLUSIONS TO POSTPONE ELECTIONS WILL NOT WORK – SANGWA
Those entertaining the possibility of postponing elections are trafficking in illusions that can never materialise, says State Counsel John Sangwa.
Speaking on the position taken by the Zambia National Public Health (ZNPH) that they may recommend postponement of the August 12, 2021 general elections if in the worst-case scenario, the Covid-19 pandemic overwhelms the country, Sangwa said the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has no power, not even the Republican President, to postpone the elections.
“Just tell those people that they are crazy. The truth of the matter is that no one, not the ECZ, not the President can postpone elections. It’s impossible to postpone elections. Come hell or high water, elections are taking place on 12 August 2021. Not even a declaration of state of emergency will lead to postponement,” Sangwa said. “The date of elections is enshrined in the Constitution and there is no provision to derogate or change that.”
Sangwa expressed surprise that such a declaration was coming from people in government who are supposed to be properly informed on issues before they bring them out to the public.
“Like I have always said we don’t read in this country. People open mouths without reading. If you are not a lawyer and are speaking on issues bordering on the law, seek sound legal advice,” Sangwa said. “For those entertaining the possibility of postponement, it’s an illusion that can never materialise.”
Sangwa said what should actually preoccupy public health officials right now was seeking ways to protect the people, and working around the Covid situation in view of the elections, rather than preoccupying themselves with postponing the elections.
“They must find ways of protecting the people and containing the virus. Elections are going ahead, because there is no provision under the law, even the state of war will not result in the postponement of elections. We can fail to hold elections but we can’t postpone,” Sangwa said, adding that the failure would be on account that institutions have collapsed on account of war such, that it’s impossible to have the elections, but that Zambia had not even veered towards that. “We are still a working country. We have always known about Covid since last year, and we have always known the date of elections since January 2016.”
Sangwa said the fact that the public health authorities were talking about postponing the elections, showed that that in itself was failure of government.
“Nobody can postpone the elections, not even the President, not even Parliament, not even ECZ. The only way to postpone is to amend the constitution. Now you can’t do that because parliament is dissolved,” Sangwa said, saying even with the declaration of a state of emergency, the President required Cabinet to do that, but there was not cabinet right now. “All those with illusions that elections can be postponed, including ECZ, they should just get ready.”
Sangwa challenged those who were talking about postponing the elections to state which law they would use to achieve their wishes.
“It’s just a simple problem by the way. We still have two months before elections…health professionals should just ensure that as many people as possible are vaccinated,” said Sangwa, and that political parties too should find ways of campaigning safely, while the people take measures to protect themselves.