Anti-Voter Apathy (AVAP) executive director Richwell Mulwani has observed that there is need to amend the current Electoral Process Act in order to stop politicians from abusing the law by embarking on early election campaigns.
And Mulwani says projects being launched by government, which are anchored on 2021 endorsements and campaigns are very dangerous.
Commenting on the ruling Patriotic Front’s early election campaigns on the Copperbelt ahead of the 2021 general election, Mulwani noted that the political atmosphere in the country would become chaotic if opposition political parties decided to follow suit, as it was too early to start campaigning for the 2021 elections.
“The current Electoral Process Act does not stipulate the period under which the campaigns are supposed to be conducted. That’s why we are saying that the Electoral Code of Conduct must be applicable throughout the electoral cycle. Why are we saying that? It’s the same gap that we are seeing where there can be serious abuse of resources based on situations of electoral campaigns towards the 2021 general elections. So, the law must be adequate enough to address these problems that we are seeing now. Because according to the Electoral Code of Conduct, you can only take someone to task in terms of abrogating the Code of Conduct if a donation is made during a campaign period. So, as we are talking now, there are all these things being done ahead of elections in 2021, meaning that there is no problem with it in terms of adherence to the law. But what we are saying is that, that law must be applicable throughout the electoral cycle so that there is control in the way projects are done ahead of campaigns,” Mulwani advised.
“We have seen ministers and other people doing that in certain places where donations are being made and we are seeing projects being done. Recently, we saw the Minister of Health (Dr Chitalu Chilufya) in Katuba indicating that they were going to have a mini hospital. Those projects, which are being launched by government, which are anchored on 2021 endorsements and campaigns are very dangerous! What the PF should do now is to concentrate on developing the country and avoid campaigning at this point. What will happen if the opposition also decide to do the same? That will just bring a conflict again! So, let us have an adequate law that is going to address all these problems that we are seeing because we have seen that there is a problem in terms of enforcing the Electoral Code of Conduct because it is not enforceable outside the campaign period, meaning that anyone can abuse it anytime in the name of development.”
Mulwani further condemned the huge donations that ruling party members of parliament were making, saying such gestures were disadvantaging the opposition.
“That’s very worrying and it’s lack of transparency and accountability because in the first place, the campaign period has still not been declared, we still have a long way. So, such kind of gestures from the ruling party disadvantages the opposition, and you can imagine since the UPND are saying they also want to do the same, it means we are going to have a very chaotic situation, which is going to undermine voter confidence and we are going to see a lot of people fighting just because the PF has demonstrated that they have embarked on early campaigns. But then, we also to ask them where they are getting the funding, it it’s coming from the PF! This is why, as AVAP, we have been advising that political parties must disclose their sources of funding. Is that money coming from the PF as a party or its coming from public funds? They should not hide anything because good governance calls for transparency and accountability. And if that is what the PF believes in then, therefore, they have to tell us where they are getting the money and why they are embarking on campaigns ahead of 2021 because time for that has not yet come,” said Mulwani.
“We also want to advise the UPND that they should not follow what PF wants to do because we don’t want to run a country where there are always problems. Remember the violence issues that have been recorded in our country? Those are very serious issues that need to be addressed. This I why we have even been calling for a genuine dialogue so that can address all these problems. We don’t want to have a situation where there is instability in our country. We just want peace prevailing. The Zambian people have enjoyed peace and this is why we are appealing to all political parties to wait until such a time when the period for campaigns will be announced.”