Lungu has no power to ban rallies, says Panji

Lungu has no power to ban rallies, says Panji

His decision to give prisoners two weeklong break amounts to evil machination

By Kamuti Muyambela

Patriotic Front (PF) member Colonel Panji Kaunda says that there is no law that mandates President Edgar Lungu to ban campaign rallies.

And Col. Panji has urged Zambians to stand up against PF’s political manoeuvres of “bribing” prisoners in exchange for freedom with a vote.

Col Panji told Daily Revelation that the pronouncement by President Lungu banning campaign rallies was not only misplaced but had no backing of the law.

He said only ECZ had the authority to guide politicians on how to conduct campaigns in line with Covid-19 health guidelines and regulations.

“Once Parliament is dissolved, the President becomes a lame duck: his powers are not as much as before. Like any other candidate, President Lungu is equally a candidate and must obey the rules which are set by ECZ (Electoral Commission of Zambia). It’s only the ECZ that can pronounce the dos and don’ts of the candidates,” Col. Panji explained. “The President doesn’t have much power to order the Police or Ministry of Health to cancel political gatherings. He can’t! This pandemic (Covid-19) has been there for the past one year now, and we have seen the PF holding mass gatherings during the so-called mobilisations. So really it’s unfair to say there will be no rallies (in the runup to the August 12 general elections). Although there is a moral point in what he said, he (President Lungu) is not an authority to issue such pronouncement which should have come from ECZ or Ministry of Health. The President is off the lane as he has no authority to make rules for an election which he is part of.”

When reminded of what happened in India where the pandemic spiked to uncontrollable levels as a result of politicians holding campaign rallies, the PF member maintained that inasmuch as there was a grain of truth in what he said, the President’s pronouncement was not supported by law.

“He (President Lungu) is not an authority. It is the ECZ that should call all the candidates including himself (President Lungu); that ‘look comrades, in view of what we are facing, I advise you to avoid mass gatherings. But when it is coming from a candidate, it raises suspicion. Why should he stop others from meeting while himself has been holding and continues to hold meetings? Yes, the point is there but the source of advice is wrong,” noted Col. Panji. “He is an interested part and so he can’t be making rules. If it came from ECZ, nobody would complain. But it’s coming from him that’s why everyone is concerned because he is an interested part. Everyone is suspicious of that.”

The Colonel called on ECZ to clarify the matter by providing all political parties with proper guidance on holding of campaign rallies. He said if ECZ remained mute, political parties should take it upon themselves to seek guidance from the electoral body.

“There is a big problem with ECZ; It has never been an authority when it comes to electioneering. When it suits the PF, everything is okay. ECZ must be free to counsel anybody within the election system. But we have seen briberies in Churches, distribution of mealie meal during campaigns, exchange of money during campaigns – all that is wrong and ECZ has been quiet on all these issues,” he observed. “Even in this case (banning of campaign rallies by President Lungu), everybody was expecting ECZ to say, ‘no Mr president, with due respect, you have got no authority to do this. That’s our role to make the rules of this game’. The ECZ run the elections and have authority to make rules during elections, and not the President. It’s not the role of the president to make rules of the elections to which he is part and candidate. He can’t be a referee, at the same time a centre forward. No, it doesn’t work like that.”

And Col. Panji has advised political parties and Zambians at large to wake up and voice out against PF’s political machinations of giving a two-week break to prisoners to go home. He said although this sounds good, the intention is evil politically.

The PF member questioned the motivation behind the two-week break given to prisoners during a crucial election as this one.

“This is like trying to oil the hands of prisoners; that ‘we the PF are telling you to go home and if you vote for these others (opposition), they will cancel this facility’. There might be something good but the timing is suspicious,” Col. Panji warned. “PF is aiming at getting a huge chunk of votes from prisons where other candidates will not have an opportunity to campaign. What will officers in prisons going to tell prisoners? ‘That if you don’t vote for PF you won’t come out of prison, and if you vote for PF you will be set free’. So, we are having issues here. What criteria are they going to use because they say, ‘if you behave well, you will stay home for good’. But someone can behave well for a short time just to get the freedom and that doesn’t mean he or she has changed for good. It’s a stupid way of winning votes.”

He warned Zambians against entertaining PF’s political harmful manoeuvres which have the potential to breed criminals in their communities.

“…..they (PF) are creating a monster that will be unable to control. For the sake of winning election, this is a stupid way of doing things. The other question is, will this be a continuous thing or its just for the sake of winning elections? Zambians must stand up to this crookedness, and it should be one reason why Zambians must vote this government out of power. Giving another five years to PF, this country will go to the dogs because things are so bad. We live by the Grace of God. Even on their new manifesto, how sure are they that they will implement this new manifesto when they failed to fulfil what is contained in the old manifesto? It’s my party but I don’t trust them,” confessed Col. Panji. “My vote last time was wasted on them. So, it is my role to ensure that the people of Zambia vote against them. We shall monitor every vote. Come August 12, we have to make sure that the Zambian people vote these people out of power.”

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