Leader of the opposition in Parliament Jack Mwiimbu says the Electoral Commission of Zambia remains a toothless bulldog because they fear the government of the day who can remove it’s leadership at anytime.
And Mwiimbu complained to Parliament that District Commissioners in Western Province have mobilised government vehicles to campaign in the Mangango parliamentary by election.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says Zambians should be proud of ECZ because its a very important institution.
Debating Head 05-Electoral Commission of Zambia in Parliament, Friday, Mwiimbu charged that ECZ was a toothless bulldog because they feared the government of the day.
“And the Electoral Commission has been toothless. The institution is a toothless bulldog. They have been failing to enforce the code of conduct because they fear the government of the day. The complaints that have been raised and brought to the attention of ECZ have never been attended to. ZNBC, Times of Zambia, Daily Mail, with impunity they ignored the Constitution of Zambia. Why should we allow public institutions to ignore with impunity what is provided for in the law?” he asked.
Mwiimbu said ECZ was afraid to defend the rights of the opposition because its leadership is appointed by the President.
“District Commissioners in Western province have been mobilised, they are all in Mangango and campaigning for PF and they are using government vehicles. It therefore entails that DC’s are using government’s resources in the campaigns. The law does not allow any other person in this country to utilise government transport apart from the President and Vice-President. Why are we allowing junior civil servants to be using government resources to campaign for a political party and ECZ is quiet? They have the power to take action against those DC’s,” he said.
“They have never done that, they fear because the leadership of the electoral commission is appointed by the President. And the President can remove them at any time without giving reasons. That is the tragedy of ECZ. ECZ has no security of tenure, they fear that if they rise up and defend the rights of the opposition, they will be removed.”
Mwiimbu observed that one of the factors that led to strife in Zambia was management of the media.
“We are all aware that one of the factors that have led to strife and discontent in this country arises from the management of the media. The public media supervised by the Ministry of Information have let this country down. During the last elections and all the other elections, the public media have been consistently biased against those they perceive to be in the opposition. Members of the opposition have been crying foul pertaining to the way ZNBC has been managing its affairs. The complaints ended up being in court [but] despite court orders, ZNBC never obliged,” he said.
And Mwiimbu further charged that violence during elections in Zambia was to a large extent caused by the Ministry of Home Affairs through the police.
“The Ministry has failed to perform their functions in ensuring that there is law and order. What has happened is that the police are now under the supervision of a political party. If you are a member of the opposition, you report a matter of violence to the police, the police will not take any action. They fear that if they take any action, they will be victimised,” said Mwiimbu.
“Maybe the tragedy is that the one who is leading the Ministry of Home Affairs is also the chairperson of the youth wing of the political party. So the police don’t see the difference. There must be a division here. And the youths in the ruling party must be told that they have no power to supervise the police. As a result members of the public have lost confidence in the police.”
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo said Zambians should be proud of ECZ because it was a very important institution.
“Indeed this is a very important institution and we as a nation should feel proud of ECZ. This is an institution which has been able to demonstrate that they can work in conformity to the SADC guidelines and procedures in terms of SADC member states holding credible elections. We as government are quite proud of ECZ and we can only encourage them to continue the very best they are doing. With respect to dialogue they have tried their best to bring stakeholders together,” said Kampyongo.
“We as political players must appreciate that this referee (ECZ) has a role to play. So if you have opted to be a perpetual looser, you don’t change your team, you play with the same political strikers who can’t marshal support from the people, you can’t blame the ECZ.”