Delegates at the ongoing National Dialogue Forum have voted that civil servants wishing to join politics must first resign and wait two years before getting actively partisan or contesting any elections.
During the Monday evening session, NDF delegates debated Article 186 of the National Constitution, but failed to reach consensus regarding when a civil servant who wants to serve political public office should leave the civil service before becoming eligible to stand for elections.
According to Article 186 (1) of the current Constitution, a public officer who seeks election or is appointed to a State office should resign, but in endorsing the constitutional provision, one Plenary group at the forum demanded that this requirement must be given a time frame.
NDF Plenary Group Two chairperson Sakwiba Sikota informed the forum that the position of his group after discussing the matter at committee stage was that civil servants who wished to join politics should resign from their positions at least three years before the elections.
This suggestion sparked debate amongst delegates, forcing NDF spokesperson Isaac Mwanza to propose that the matter be subjected to a secret ballot.
And After the secret ballot was administered by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Tuesday afternoon, NDF returning officer Anna Mulenga Nkaka announced that delegates had voted by majority that civil servants should resign two years before joining active politics.
“We are looking at article 186 (1), dealing with participation in politics. And the question reads; ‘when should a civil servant/ public officer who wants to seek public office leave office before being eligible to stand for election’? And there were five options to this question, we had; three months, then there was six months, then there was one year, then there was two years and there was three years. Allow me now to give out the results…I, Anna Mulenga Nkanka, being the returning officer for the National Dialogue Forum do hereby declare that I have in accordance with the law ascertained the results of the poll in the said election of Article 186 (1) and they have been given as follows: one year had 13 votes, three years had 16 votes, six months had 29 votes, three months had 48 votes and two years had 82 votes,” declared Nkaka.
“I further declare that no ballot paper has been rejected as invalid. I therefore declare that the option of two years to be in affirmative by majority members of the National Dialogue Forum, this day of 14th May, 2019.”