FORMER Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says President Edgar Lungu should consider reconstituting new management at the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) because of the manner it is currently being managed.
In an interview, Dr Sacika noted that reconstituting new management at the electoral body would help in preserving its integrity.
“President Lungu should not be indifferent to the concerns of the people about the Electoral Commission of Zambia. The buck stops at his door steps, he is the President of the country. If it is necessary to reconstitute the management at the Electoral Commission of Zambia, he should not hesitate to do so. It is important in the interest of all the people of Zambia that the integrity of the ECZ is preserved. This is absolutely important instead of keeping one or two individuals in jobs where their performance leaves much to be desired,” Dr Sacika said. “President Lungu took oath to run the affairs of this country according to the law as established, how can he allow [Justice Esau] Chulu to flout the Constitution and the law in the manner he has done? It’s baffling, it’s incredible. What is the point of having laws or having a Constitution if those who are mandated to implement the laws are allowed to flout the laws?”
He further wondered why Justice Chulu had failed to implement the provisions of pf the law which provide for the establishment of offices in all the provinces and implement the continuous registration of voters.
“Chulu has failed to implement the provision of the Constitution which requires the commission to establish offices in the provinces. He has failed to implement that law which requires a continuous registration of voters, a demand Zambians made during the Mwanakatwe Constitution Review Commission way back in 1993. He has failed to prevent the abuse of the electoral process by the political party in power. Now, under Chulu’s leadership, the Electoral Commission of Zambia has lost imagination and creativity. The commission is managing the electoral process on the lines we established way back in 1962 and yet the political environment has changed drastically and new methods are therefore required. The commission’s failure in my view to implement a continuous registration of voters is a manifestation of this lack of imagination and creativity. The law is there, if the law is there, why is Chulu failing to implement it? It baffles me,” Dr Sacika added
He further noted that Justice Chulu and chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano had misunderstood the independence of the Commission and caused mistrust among stakeholders
“The mistake that Chulu and Nshindano are making is that they regard the Electoral Commission of Zambia just as another administrative organ of government, which is there to manage the electoral process and is answerable only to itself. This is a very wrong understanding of the affairs of the ECZ and it is this understanding that is responsible for the mistrust in which the ECZ is held by many stakeholders. The ECZ is not just another administrative organ of government like the public service commission for example. The electoral commission is first and foremost a political institution which must always perform or try to perform its functions in accordance with the aspirations and expectations to all its clients, the political parties,” Dr Sacika said.
“Now, when the constitution says that the Electoral Commission of Zambia is independent, it does not mean that Chulu and Nshindano are free to operate as they please without regard to the concerns and aspirations of their clients. The independence of the Commission merely means that the Commission shall not accept instructions from any source to manipulate the electoral process to favour this or that political party. That is what the independence of the commission means. Now, the Electoral Commission of Zambia has lost credibility, a lot of credibility.”
And Dr Sacika said the Commission should set up a permanent liaison committee to ensure continuous dialogue with political parties.
“Now, in order to be more inclusive and open in its activities, the Electoral Commission of Zambia should set up a permanent liaison committee of political parties to discuss matters relating to the electoral process on a daily basis if possible in order to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding and ensure that the process is acceptable to all the players,” he said.
He further said calling for a consultative meeting with political party presidents was good for politics but not good as a management strategy.
“Now, calling presidents of political parties, including the Republican President, to a consultative meeting like they did, may be good for public relations but it is not good as a management strategy. A most effective strategy would be to have a permanent liaison committee that would be a more sensible management strategy…Calling for a meeting of the presidents in the way they did is good for politics but it’s not solving anything at all,” said Dr Sacika.