CIVIL Society Organisations have told the Commission of Inquiry on electoral violence that their mandate is an exercise in futility.
During an interactive meeting organised by the Commission of Inquiry held in Lusaka today, December 15, 2016, the CSOs questioned the inquiry’s relevance now that the elections were over.
Zambia Civic Education Association executive director Judith Mulenga told the 10-person commission that government should have consulted other stakeholders before constituting the inquiry.
Mulenga charged that inquiry was useless.
“This is an exercise in futility and it will not yield the expected result because there were no consultations or enough research done before appointing it,” Mulenga said.
Mulenga questioned why a commission would be appointed to investigate whether or not there was political violence during the August 11, 2016 elections when it was a well-known fact.
“This is act is a waste of tax payer’s money, I mean, why would a commission be appointed to start investigating whether violence was there during this year’s elections when we all know it was there?” asked Mulenga.
FODEP information and research officer Gilbert Chisenga also took a swipe at the commission, critical witnesses would be victimised.
“To what extent will the police protect the victims of electoral violence? Because there will be more victimisation if people start mentioning names of the people who were involved in violent acts,” Chisenga said.
In response, Commission of Inquiry on election violence chairman Justice Munalula Lisimba said it was incorrect to brand the commission as irrelevant.
“It is not right to say this exercise is irrelevant because you can only find a solution when there is a problem and I believe the President [Edgar Lungu] had identified a problem of regional voting and violence which is reason enough for him to appoint this commission to look into the matter,” Justice Lisimba said.
“It is law to punish and correct those that commit crime in any country. Therefore, all perpetrators will have to be brought to book. It is the mandate of this commission to inquire into the voting patterns in the general elections conducted from 2006 to 2016 and the electoral violence that characterised the 2016 general elections, in order to come up with recommendations that will prevent occurrence of violence in future elections.”
Justice Lisimba assured the CSOs that anyone who would testify would be protected by police.
“The Deputy Inspector General of police did assure us that the service would protect people who would testify in this matter and I took his word because I believe that the security of every person is the responsibility of the police,” said Justice Lisimba.
“Then, tempering with submitted evidence by our officers is an offence and everyone found doing so will be prosecuted and so there is no need for anyone to be worried about the safety of submitted evidence because it will be very safe.”
Justice Lisimba claimed that consulting stakeholders whether President Lungu should appoint the commission would have been a waste of resources.