Shikapwasha joins calls to shift poll date from Saturday

CHIEF government spokesperson Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha on Saturday said the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) must review the decision to hold the forth-coming Mpulungu and Chilanga by-elections on Saturday, October 30.

ECZ postponed the by-elections from Thursday October, 28 to Saturday October 30, which a growing number of people feel would disfranchise members of the Seventh Day Adventist church who are many in the two areas.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha said this when he called in to participate on a live phone-in programme on UNZA Radio dubbed Is the Chilanga violence a reflection of what Zambians expect in 2011 general elections.

He said the decision by ECZ to hold elections on Saturday or Sunday was wrong.
Shikapwasha said as a pastor or reverend, he totally disagreed with holding elections on Saturday or Sunday.

“This is my opinion and I can tell anybody that this must be changed,” he said. “It’s my view that the decision should be reviewed. If people are going to church on Sunday or Saturday to worship, God is their number one over elections and they must be allowed to fulfil their feelings and religious aspects.”

Yesterday, Lusaka lawyer Kelvin Hang’andu called for further postponement of the Mpulungu and Chilanga by-elections in order to allow Seventh Day adventists and Sabbath observing Zambians to participate in the elections.

The Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church has also appealed to the ECZ to set another date for the two by-elections.
And Shikapwasha said the violence that occurred in Chilanga should not be blamed on anyone.

He said it was the responsibility of Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde, the President, opposition and every Zambian to ensure peace was upheld.
Shikapwasha also accused UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema of fuelling violence with his presence when MMD was filing in their nominations.
He said Hichilema interfered with the MMD affairs when every political party was given a chance.

“This is where the problem comes in; you want to do your own things outside the agreed standards,” he said.
He challenged the moderator of the programme to ask Hichilema where he was at the time the violence took place.

Shikapwasha said Hichilema’s presence contributed to chaos and added that as a political leader, the latter should have avoided the conflict.
“He is a responsible leader and not a cadre. His responsibility is to maintain peace in the country. At least he can assess and say if I go there, I will cause problems,” he said.

Shikapwasha said if Hichilema was not able to do this, then he was not a leader.

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