NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili says the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) should not cry foul that they have not been fully funded because they assured the people of Zambia that they were ready to conduct elections.
Last week, ECZ chief electrical officer Patrick Nshindano said the Commission had only been funded with K470 million against the K672 million that was budgeted for, leaving a budget deficit of over K200 million.
But in an interview, Kambwili warned the government not to play around with elections.
“The truth of the matter is that this country is broke but surely, elections must be prioritized. Please, go to the donors, go everywhere and find money for elections. I will not forgive ECZ. I will not even allow them to be giving excuses. They have failed terribly! That is why this country is lagging behind because there is no seriousness in the way people conduct themselves. Weren’t we telling you that you were not ready? We are not going to sympathize with you,” Kambwili said.
“And let me also warn the government that please, don’t play with elections. If indeed you have not funded ECZ, fund them like yesterday! This is a very important program that has to decide the future of this country. This is the only way citizens can participate in the governance of the country. If you cannot prioritize elections, what are you going to put as priority? So please whoever is in charge of funding ECZ, fund them in full. And for you ECZ, you owe the people of Zambia an apology for pretending that you have the monopoly of wisdom in as far as voter registration is concerned. It is now clear that you have failed in the area of voter registration.”
He wondered why the Commission said they were ready when they had not been fully funded.
“ECZ should not cry foul because when we had that presidential summit, we told them that they were not ready for the elections, they were not also ready to do the voter registration. Now look at what has happened to the voter registration! We told them it is practically impossible to register 9 million people in 30 days. They told us that if 4 million people can vote in one day, we can register 9 million people. What has happened now? The program has gone beyond the half mark and they have registered only 2.7 million. In the remaining days, they will only be able to capture another one million or less. There is no way a country of 18 million people, only three million people can vote and decide the fate of this country,” Kambwili said.
“That [ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick] Nshindano, together with [chairperson Justice Esau] Chulu and all those commissioners must resign on moral grounds. You don’t behave as though you have the monopoly of wisdom. We have been going through these elections for so many years and we know what happens. They were thinking Zambians are gullible and stupid, who has looked stupid in the end? Now they want to start saying they have not been fully funded. When we had that meeting, they said they were ready, and for someone to say they are ready, it means they have been funded in full. So why do they want to start crying today? Is it because the PF have started attacking them through their surrogates? We are not going to buy that story of underfunding by ECZ.”
Meanwhile, the former chief government spokesperson wondered why the country was justifying failure.
“And ba mayo ba Vice-President [Inonge Wina], I have a lot of respect for you. Yesterday (Friday) in parliament, you were saying ‘no, the ECZ is very sure of capturing 9 million voters.’ Are you sure ba mayo ba Inonge Wina? Why is it that in this country, we don’t want to accept failure and plan properly? We always want to justify failure. How can they register 9 million people in the remaining weeks? Everything is below par. The time taken to register is something you cannot talk about, the quality of the voter’s card is something you cannot talk about,” said Kambwili.
“Ba mayo ba Inonge Wina, with all due respect, Parliament is a very important institution. Everything that is said in parliament must be nothing but the truth. And if the Vice-President is going to assure the nation that 9 million will be captured when they have failed to capture half of that number in three weeks, then we are not serious as a country. She is letting me down. Last week, she said we were not going to default, we defaulted. Are we turning Parliament into a playhouse?”