LEADER of the Opposition in Parliament Jack Mwiimbu has warned that if elections are not handled properly, it will create a crisis in Zambia.
But deputy chief whip says UPND is not a parallel government for it to start dictating how the Electoral Commission of Zambia should operate.
Debating a motion by Vice-President Inonge Wina for the House to support the K325 million 2021 budget for ECZ, Friday, Mwiimbu said the ECZ, in its current state is a danger to peace.
“Madam chairperson, I want to state that the Electoral Commission of Zambia in its current state is a danger to the peace of this country because they have been very inconsistent in the way they want to manage elections in this country. You do recall, madam chairperson, that a month ago, the electoral commission, through the chief electoral officer at the ECZ held a press conference and told the nation that the current register of voters will be used provided that you go to the polling station and verify your particulars. When the President of the Republic of Zambia came to this House, when he announced that there will be a new list of voters, the Electoral Commission of Zambia summer-sorted like an F16 and said that they are cancelling the register of voters,” Mwiimbu said.
He warned that if elections were not handled properly, it would create a crisis in the country.
“Madam chairperson you have to realize that in any country, elections are key to the governance of the country. And if you don’t handle it properly, you create chaos and anarchy. We therefore call upon the electoral commission to handle matters of elections prudently and professionally for the sake of this country. That is what we are all asking for as stakeholders. We are asking for a transparent manner of handling the elections. We don’t know why the electoral commission is insisting that members of the public who are not able to access internet should register through that platform. Members of the public in Nalolo, in Nabwalya or in Shangombo and most of these areas do not have telephone connectivity. The people of Zambia, madam chairperson, are listening and we are supposed to be representing the people of this country,” Mwiimbu said.
Mwiimbu, who is also Monze Central UPND member of parliament, insisted that registering nine million voters in one month was illogical, given the COVID-19 pandemic which meant restrictions on large gatherings.
“We know that in Makululu in Kabwe who are going to vote out a certain MP have been complaining that they do not believe in this system. Madam Speaker, we are aware that there is COVID-19 in this country and there are regulations. How do you expect to register nine million voters in one month when the regulations are saying ‘you must not congregate in large numbers.’ As if that is not enough madam speaker, in the Northern region of this country, Luapula, North Western, it’s now raining heavily. How do you expect the poor peasant [farmers] in these areas to rise and queue up maybe for one week and register as voters at the expense of providing food for their children? We are creating a crisis deliberately. Whom are we trying to please by creating a crisis in this country? What is the problem with having the current register and only allowing people to verify their particulars?” he asked.
Mwiimbu also insisted that Zambia had two laws, one for every citizen and another for PF members.
“Madam Speaker, we are aware that in this country, there are two laws; one for the ordinary Zambians and one for the PF. Whenever the PF commit offenses in this country, nothing is being done. And during the elections, the electoral commission is impotent. Complaints have been raised [but] the Electoral commission have been saying that ‘our hands are tied.’ We are aware where ministers are being beaten by PF cadres. We are aware where PF cadres have attacked police stations. There is impunity in this country we are aware of cadres who are calling themselves America one and Commander One and in Lukashya, they had press conferences with the chief whip here, directing them to take the appropriate action. How can you allow impunity to reign in this country just because you belong to a certain political party,” said Mwiimbu.
But Ngulube said UPND should not attack the ECZ to hide their mischievous activities.
“Madam Speaker, allow me to say I am very disappointed with the caliber of debates that we are trying to bring to this House. As leaders, we must be seen to be uniting this nation. We will not allow that every time somebody stands up they want to be threatening the nation, threaten MPs, threaten the ruling party. Before you even form government you should be threatening people. Who do you think you are? Madam speaker, allow me to say that there is a threat that the ECZ is a danger to this nation but how do they come to this parliament if the ECZ is a danger? They have lost squarely. All the by-elections that have been there, they lose because the ECZ is neutral. We have been losing in Southern Province, Western and other strongholds because the ECZ is neutral. So, let them not attack the ECZ to hide their mischievous activities,” Ngulube said.
“Madam Speaker, I am aware that just in 2016 after the presidential election and there was an election petition, some mercenaries and imperialists funded a lot of money because some people believed there was going to be a re-run. We want to know where is that money and how have you used that money, because you want to hide trying to pretend to be clean when the donors and those people who gave you that money are still asking how you used that money if it was not meant to discredit the ECZ? Please explain to the people of Zambia and to your fellow MPs how that money was used because you can’t be getting rich when you are in the opposition.”
Ngulube also said it was not true that the PF had special laws which protected him.
“Madam speaker, I also want to say that this issue of saying that two sets of laws, one for PF, we cannot always allow people who on one hand they attack the police and abduct them, and then pretend to be neutral. I want to say Madam Speaker that if I were a police officer somewhere in charge of some province, those people would have been in cells now. And we will not condone any kind of threats of violence, whether you want to defend yourselves or not, there is a state somewhere which will take charge,” Ngulube said.
Ngulube said UPND were massaging their ears by saying they are about to form government.
“Madam Speaker, they have been massaging their ears thinking they are about to form government. Now, if it’s true that they are about to form government, why are they so scared of the voters roll? As far as we are concerned, all those dead voters we saw in some constituencies, all those exaggerated voters, we want to assure them that if the new voters roll comes out, all those dead people will not appear on the voters roll. And in 2021, we will not see any of those strange numbers. And that is why some people are so dead scared of a new voters roll, because we are aware that it’s not possible that from 1991, the same people who voted in 1991, none of them have died, none of them have relocated, none of them have moved. So, stop insulting the ECZ. This time around, it will be bumper to bumper. We are following you very closely,” said Ngulube.
“Madam Speaker, I also want to say that the UPND is not a parallel government for them to start dictating to the people of Zambia how ECZ should operate. The ECZ is independent. And the same leader of opposition was telling the people of Zambia that Bill 10 is dead and that the ashes are in the Indian Ocean. So, if Bill 10 is dead, why do you want it to come on the floor of the House? So, the inconsistencies you have been labeling on ECZ are also being shown on your face Honorable leader of opposition.”
And during her presentation of the motion, Vice-President Wina said there was need for ECZ to organize another workshop with MPs, to educate them on the online voter registration exercise.
She also opposed those complaining about the 30-day voter registration period saying the commission only required 33 people to register per day, polling station, in order to meet the target.