DEMOCRATIC Party (DP) leader Harry Kalaba says he sympathizes with the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) because they are working with a leadership that does not know its priorities well.
Last week, ECZ chief electoral 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.
Commenting on this in an interview, Kalaba observed that government had funds to buy a jet and buy off people to support the Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 but failed to adequately fund ECZ.
“I sympathize with the ECZ because they are working with a leadership that does not know its priorities well. The ECZ in fact, needs to be commended they have tried with the limited money. PF wanted them to fail to manage the process now that is why you have seen the PF attacking them accusing them of this and that because they have not done their part. How can you fail to pay for an exercise like the electoral process? You don’t fund it adequately but you have money to buy a jet, they had money for Bill 10, going round buying off people but they didn’t have money to fund the ECZ adequately, it is a shame to us as a country! 56 years after independence. This is the lowest Zambia has gotten,” Kalaba said.
“We have had problems in the past but never before have we played with ECZ, we have never. And we are very lucky that we have mature people like Judge Esau Chulu at the ECZ, if we had other people, we would have a big problem in this country. Even with the limited resources that they have, they are trying to do their best to make this process work. At the end of the day who is suffering? It is the citizens, we are leaving what we are doing to queue up for hours because ECZ does not have money to deploy more officers. Because the government that we have wanted the system to be a flop. Sorry for them, even if they have tried to make it a flop, Zambians are determined to register and to kick them out of power next year.”
Kalaba urged government to adequately fund ECZ.
“We are telling them that can you be serious with the way you are managing this process. Give ECZ the money that they require. Let ECZ not blame anybody, give them this money because you knew about this exercise not yesterday, they knew about this way back. So why are they not funding ECZ properly? Please for once the PF must show leadership. They must show some kind of seriousness and give ECZ the debit that they require because without that, the electoral process will be mutilated and our democracy will be undermined,” said Kalaba.
When asked what caused the hiccups in the registration process, Nshindano revealed that the Commission had not been fully financed with adequate resources to execute its mandate.
“Firstly, I think we are faced with a good problem as the Commission in terms of turnout. The turnout was overwhelming! Fully funded as yet, not yet fully met with resources. I need to cross-check as of today (Friday) how much we were at. As of last week, we were at K470 [million] against the K672 [million] that we were supposed to be funded for. These commitments remain firm on the part of the Treasury and they do release these funds on a regular basis as requested,” said Nshindano.