HOME Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says the Electoral Commission of Zambia should start “biting” politicians who have a tendency of making reckless comments about the Commission.
And Information Minister Dora Siliya has lamented that some people are hell bent on eroding the people’s confidence in ECZ.
But Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Jack Mwimbu says ECZ is a failed institution whih has failed to run elections in Zambia.
Debating a motion brought by Luapula PF member of parliament Emerine Kabashi that the house adopt the Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to scrutinise the Presidential appointment of Emily Sikazwe to serve as vice-chairperson, Major-General Vincent Mukanda, and Ndiyoi Mutiti to serve as Members of the Electoral Commission of Zambia, Kampyongo said it was disappointing that some politicians who had never won a ward election had continued to discredit the Commission.
“This is the institution which needs people with strong character because the nature of us politicians is that when it doesn’t suit you, you point figures like a losing team at a referee, when you are supposed to be polishing your skills. The referee will just be there to ensure the level playing field. So madam Emily Sikazwe, we are encouraging you that continue with your strong character to help the chairperson in providing leadership at that very important institution. So we are very grateful for these choices which will be very interesting. Surprising at the hypocrisy of us politicians, we are here because of the COVID, we have changed ways of doing business. We are embracing ICT platforms and so I don’t know why it should be a problem for ECZ to devise systems that should be able to help citizens at critical times such as this one,” Kampyongo said.
“If people want to seek for information, certainly the institution is there but we can’t condemn the institution for our own failures as political players. They are there to make sure that everyone participates. I want you to ensure that you take some of the sentiments coming from reckless politicians seriously! Let them bite, let them learn to bite as an institution. We can’t allow individuals who can’t even win a ward as councilors to claim rigging which they can’t substantiate. We want this institution to be able to flex its muscle working with the law enforcement agencies and the police is there to supplement the efforts of ECZ. We have no doubt that these eminent citizens will be equal to the task and they will bring a lot of value to this very important institution.”
And Siliya said it was disheartening that some people were bent on eroding people’s confidence in ECZ.
“The appointments at this time are to an institution to which some people are bent on eroding confidence. The ECZ is a creation of this house. We have a responsibility as members of the Parliament, as us politicians, to ensure that the confidence of this institution is not eroded, that is what the people of Zambia are looking to us for. It is not the first time the ECZ will be holding elections in this country next year. This country has been having elections for a very long time and yet at every election we have seen groups of politicians, political parties and even some misguided NGO leaders continue on an agenda to erode confidence in the ECZ. I believe that we should all reflect and look deep because this institution was created by us to manage elections in this country,” said Siliya.
“The ECZ is an institution of Zambia and has to respond especially to the needs of young people, six million Zambians. We have to find innovative ways to interest those young people into coming to these voters register and this is why the ECZ, just like government and smart Zambia just like the private sector, this is why government has invested in ICT the whole country. If they want to participate using online, that is why ECZ has responded and we expect the people being appointed today will continue to add leadership in this institution to do things differently.”
Contributing to the same debate, Fisheries and Livestock Minister Professor Nkandu Luo said words could destroy the country.
“Look, Zambia is not an island and Zambia is not going to remain behind simply because some of us don’t know how to use technology, the benefits of technology and we were born before computers especially those that are sitting on my right. We are going to use technology so that we can capture more people. I am surprised for someone to say you can’t register nine million within a month in fact, that is what technology does. It is going to improve the numbers, those of you who don’t celebrate technology watch the space,” said Prof Luo.
“Mr Speaker, the things that come out of our mouths, these tongues can destroy a country. These perceptions where you just build it in your head that there is a hate speech and yet you are the orchestrators of hate speech, there is violence yet you are the orchestrators of violence. The Mapatizya formula was created by some people here, they know themselves on my right but they want to transport it to people who are not violent.”
But Mwimbu, who is also Monze Central UPND member of parliament said the Commission was a failed institution.
“Mr Speaker, the Electoral Commission of Zambia is a failed institution that has failed to run elections in this country. Mr Speaker, it is public domain that despite the powers that have been endowed on ECZ, they have failed to manage elections in this country. We are aware that there is a code of conduct of all the players in the electoral process in this country and which code of conduct is supposed to be managed by the ECZ in collaboration with Zambia Police. Whenever we have elections in this country and in particular by elections we have noted with concern as members of the public and players in the political arena the failures of the commission. The Commission has failed to ensure that the players in the political arena are given the latitude to campaign freely in the elections despite the numerous complaints that have been rendered to the commission, the ECZ has proved to be toothless,” said Mwimbu.
“These individuals would not work in a vacuum, they will be guided by the procedures and the laws that are obtained as the electoral commission. If they find an institution that is impotent, they will be impotent themselves. The nominee for the deputy chairperson of the commission was the one who was responsible for running the affairs of ECZ in Lukashya and I did mention that in Lukashya hate speech was very prominent, violence was prominent and there was no comment whatsoever from the ECZ to ensure that the elections were free and fair. We are aware that even members in this House were making hate speeches in various constituencies and the Commission cannot take action. Today there is a crisis pertaining to the registration of voters, members of the public are crying as to why ECZ is discarding the old register of voters when there is no law that allows them to do that. Under the circumstances, we are in because of COVID-19 it is not possible to register nine million voters in 30 days.”