OUR Civic Duty Association (OCIDA) chairperson Simon Zukas has charged that PF has already started the process of rigging next year’s general election through the NRC registration exercise and the unfair application of the Public Order Act.
And Zukas says his Association will endeavour to ensure there will be no third term for President Edgar Lungu.
Meanwhile, Zukas says President Lungu is attacking the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) because they are prosecuting his friends.
In an interview in Lusaka, Sunday, Zukas charged that attempts to rig next year’s polls had already started.
“If you listen to international news, we know that in Belarus, people have risen against the powerful man (President Alexander Lukashenko), who has been there for 26 years with massive demonstrations, they want him to go. So far, he hasn’t moved, but the international community are trying to help the demonstrators by applying sanctions and it looks like he will have to go even though he might have a vicious police force. What we have seen on television is that they are brutal and they injure people. Now, this may sound a long way away and doesn’t concern us, but it does. Because even next door to us in Malawi, only a short while ago, we had a similar occasion when someone tried to rig the elections, basically, what people are complaining about in Belarus. In Malawi, we saw that the election was rigged and they demonstrated, not only people in the streets, but at all levels of society. There was a reaction and eventually the incumbent had to give way. New elections proved that they were rigged. There is a lesson for us, riggers beware! You may get away with it, but it eventually can catch up and it usually catches up from the bottom up,” he cautioned.
“People who are in authority, ordinary people in the streets doing their work get fed up with the leaders and they vote against him and he manages because he is the incumbent, he may use his power to rig. Now, there comes a time when enough people don’t believe it and they go into the streets. My conclusion here is to warn… because we know that in this country attempts of rigging take place, firstly, by the people in power; they are able to get the results they want, not by true vote numbers, but by rigging and bribing. Now, rigging and bribing doesn’t just take place at the voting booth, it is a process, it has already started. It all leads to unfair elections and that unfairness doesn’t start from the booth. It has even started here, at the moment, it starts with the National Registration (Card exercise) not being fairly distributed; it starts with the police using the Public Order Act in a biased partisan form: they let the ruling party have their meeting and arrest people, while the opposition are held at bay. So, my warning is that those authorities should take note of what happened in Malawi and what happened in Belarus.”
And Zuka insisted that President Lungu’s attempts to hand himself an unprecedented third term in office must be resisted in line with what the Republican Constitution states on presidential term limits.
“If the Constitution says, ‘you should only have two terms’ and people who are in power arrange things for some whatever third term, there will come a point when people don’t accept it. You may remember when (Fredrick) Chiluba tried to have a third term…At that time, we called ourselves the Oasis Forum, we managed to block him. Yes, to start with, they look as if they can succeed, but there should be no attempted third term here. We should all be conscious that we want a fair election. Yes, the incumbent might get most of the votes, let it happen, but it has to be done fairly not by twisting rules. What I don’t like about what is happening is people in government are using government resources to have an advantage. They are using the police in a partisan way. And even cadres think they can do anything and get away with it. Now, we have set up OCIDA, not as a party, but to watch the process to make sure that they finish with fair elections,” Zukas said.
“The Constitution says it is two terms only and that’s got to be. And we can’t have the incumbent rig themselves to have a third term. We still have time to mobilise. OCIDA will definitely try to play its part to make sure that two terms is enough and whoever tries a third term is going wrong and must be stopped! We depend on people, we don’t have our own police, our own judges, but what has been shown in Belarus is how, eventually, the strands of people come through. If you watch TV, the demonstrations are massive and the same can happen here.”
Meanwhile, Zukas observed that President Lungu was attacking the ACC because they were prosecuting his friends.
“The President should not be partisan. He can deal with misgovernance; it’s his job to achieve good governance. But just to go and attack the ACC because they are doing something he doesn’t like, that is not what he has been elected to do. I find that the problem with our President at the moment is he has become too partisan, he is a party president, his politics is partisan and by that he is making a mistake. Once elected, his job is to make sure there is good governance and I don’t see that he has proved anything so far against the ACC. Maybe he doesn’t like that they are beginning to prosecute some friends, but they are doing their job,” Zukas said.
He added that the case against PF Eastern Province youth chairperson Emmanuel J Banda, commonly known as Jay Jay, should be properly dealt in view of the evidence against him.
“We are against these cadres who feel empowered, even to the point of attacking a police officer! It is very unusual in the whole world, people are scared of police. To go and attack a police officer in the police station means that they feel very powerful and that power must come from somewhere. I can summarise that it is coming from his party or some other officials. I am sure the President hasn’t directed him to give him that power, but other officials might have. So, the police are quite entitled to deal with him and charge him. I understand he is trying to get out of it by saying, ‘he is a defender of the President’ so he seems to say that, ‘he can do something wrong as long as he is the defender of the President…’ Now, that again is wrong,” he said.
“And I think the PF have in fact made a statement that he should be dealt with. I think that from OCIDA’s point of view, he should be dealt with the evidence against him. We would support the authorities to deal with him properly. And as a lesson to the cadres, they are not the authority in this country. They may be giving themselves authority in bus stations and markets, but they are subject to the law, they have no special standing. If the PF are defending someone who has done badly then there are also bad people.”
He further insisted that it was wrong to identify OCIDA as part of the opposition political fraternity.
“When we formed OCIDA and they asked me to be chairman, Mumbi, (Phiri) the deputy secretary general of PF said: ‘I am looking for a job!’ Can you imagine that? So, I take no notice of that, you have to say what you believe in. In the case of OCIDA, it is wrong to identify us as a part of some party. We are opposition because we just don’t only approve what the government is doing, we are critical. I hope that none of us in OCIDA blames the government for what they are doing right, that is not our purpose. Our purpose is to blame them for bad governance, for misuse of the POA. Our job is to make sure Zambians are treated fairly irrespective of party or tribe,” said Zukas.
Zukas encouraged opposition political parties to be courageous.