President Rupiah Banda says problems at the Electoral Commission of Zambia-ECZ are saddening.
The President says the situation at ECZ House is regrettable as 2011 is an election year.
He says ECZ needs to ensure harmony and tranquility as the country prepares for the polls.
The President was responding to questions from journalists at Lusaka International Airport on Thursday shortly before his departure to the Copperbelt, for a one day working visit.
Mr Banda hopes that the forth-coming Mporokoso and Local Government by-elections will take off despite the unfolding events at ECZ.
Meanwhile, President Banda has expressed ignorance over assertions that Government is plotting to remove ECZ Chairperson Justice Florence Mumba.
The President says the assertions by a private newspaper are baseless.
Workers at the ECZ have downed tools demanding that Justice Florence Mumba resigns.
The workers are also demanding re-instatement of fired commission Director Dan Kalale.
The workers have vowed not to resume work until Government removes Justice Mumba for alleged corrupt practices and unfairly treating them.
Para-military police officers armed with AK 47 assault riffles have sealed off the main entrance to the Electoral Commission of Zambia Headquarters as the workers protest continues.
And ECZ workers representative Joseph Chilekwa says the workers will continue with their protest until their demands are met.
Mr Chilekwa on Tuesday told ZNBC News that going back to work with Justice Mumba as Chairperson would not work.
Mr Chilekwa also maintained that the workers will not handle the forth coming Mporokoso Bye elections, scheduled for March 3rd if Justice Mumba does not stand down.
The events at ECZ House started on Sunday after former Director Dan Kalale said he had been dismissed because he disagreed with Justice Mumba to single source KPMG to carry out consultancy works at a cost of K1 billion.
This amount, the workers have argued, is above the threshold of the internal tender committee and therefore procurement of consultancy service should be been subjected to normal tendering procedure.
Mr Kalale accused Justice Mumba and other Commissioners of having single sourced KPMG to undertake consultancy services on the confidential audit system review for the ECZ for the year 2008 to 2009.
Mr Kalale said he then reported the matter to the Auditor Generals office who directed the contract be cancelled.
He also called on the ACC and DEC to carry out an investigation into the matter.
Justice Mumba’s reaction
On Tuesday, Justice Florence Mumba invited the Anti Corruption Commission-ACC- to investigate alleged reports of corruption at the commission.
Justice Mumba said the invitation was a response to allegations against her by former Commission Director Dan Kalale.
Justice Mumba said the ACC should probe contracts relating to the supply of materials and services and the budgetary accountability for the tripartite and by elections.
In a statement issued on her behalf by Commission Secretary Eric Kamwi in Lusaka on Tuesday, Justice Mumba said,
“Following aspersions made against the electoral commission of Zambia, the Chairperson has decided to invite the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to probe among other things they may wish to investigate, the following:
“Dates and mode of appointment of all staff, academic and professional qualifications; when and where obtained; and, all moveable property, chattels, when and how procured.”
Justice Mumba continues that, “all motor vehicles, when and how procured and to whom assigned and at what times; maintenance records, insurance policies, garages used for repairs, fuel, and relevant contracts, where applicable; and, Budgetary accountability for tripartite elections and by-elections, etc, and, Contracts relating to the supply of materials and services and actual materials and services,” must be investigated. Justice Mumba said.