PF DEPUTY national chairperson Davies Chama says former vice-president Dr Guy Scott should retire peacefully and concentrate on his health rather than stressing himself with political matters.

And Chama says UPND president Hakainde Hichilema is hallucinating by stating that the PF is trying to cause chaos in the ongoing electoral process.

On Wednesday, Dr Scott called for the extension of the voter registration exercise, saying ECZ would need about 12 more weeks to capture all eligible voters.

He also said people who were spending so much time in queues were getting more upset about the levels of incompetence.

“On voter registration, it is very clear that the process has not been fully thought through. We can all see that the time is totally inadequate and must be extended. At this rate, around 12 weeks will be required to attend to all would-be voters. Just as worrying are the many stories of irregularities at registration centres, groups of unknown people being brought in, the presence of cadres and PF officials apparently managing the process, and the failures in NRC renewal and issuance, all of these create bias, or a perception of bias, which does not bode well for democracy,” said Dr Scott.

“For an election to be legitimate, a transparent registration process is essential. It seems odd to me that any government would contemplate such shambles. I have met many people who have spent as long as 14 hours on a queue, getting crosser and crosser with such a level of incompetence. As a politician, if I was part of this, I wonder how I would then manage to convince the same person to put their trust in me!”

But in an interview, Chama, who is also Defence Minister, said it is unfair that opposition parties and other stakeholders had continued to blame the PF government on the shortcomings of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) during the voter registration process.

He urged Dr Scott to focus on his health.

“The remarks by the former vice-president (Dr Guy Scott), I am a bit concerned and perplexed. For me, it was concerning when I read what he said and his continuous participation in politics. Sometimes in politics, when you have done your part, just retire peacefully and concentrate on your health so that you recover and live a longer life. If you continue stressing yourself in political matters, I am not part of his family, but if I was a member of his family, I will be able to counsel him to say, ‘please, you have done your part, you have contributed so much in the democratisation of this country and even to the development of this country, it is your time to rest; let the young men, who are on the political scene continue to engage in politics.’ He is our parent, he is our former vice-president of the party and we love him so much! He has the right to participate in politics because we want to love our parent and we want to respect him as such,” Chama said.

And Chama said Hichilema was trying to discredit the voter registration process because he knew he would lose the 2021 general election.

“From your own analysis, is it fair for Hichilema to allege that we need to manipulate ECZ as an equal player, like UPND and PF and NDC, UNIP, FDD and these other political parties? I think he is just hallucinating! He has seen that he is going to lose the elections next year, like he has lost six times already. So, he is just worried that he is going to lose. It has nothing to do with the process. I think we are all affected by the slow process of the registration of voters, we are all concerned, that is why as a party that is civilised and civil in the way we conduct our issues, we have engaged ECZ so that these concerns are addressed. It is the concern of every Zambian that the process must be quickened up so that the estimated number of nine million, nine million for your information is just an estimated number, so it might be less or it might be more than nine million. So, it is not that when they estimate that they are going to register nine million, they will have to capture nine million, it can be eight million, it can be seven million. If it is accurate, they can capture nine million, even above nine million, that would be good for our democracy,” Chama said.

Chama said the ruling party was not involved in ECZ’s operations as it was an independent institution.

“You have read the Zambian Constitution in terms of the separation of powers and the autonomy of the Electoral Commission of Zambia. The same people, if we were to move in strongly as a party in government to control ECZ, they will say, ‘we are trying to manipulate ECZ which is autonomous’. They will even start quoting articles in the Constitution how autonomous ECZ is supposed to be. We are also players in an election. If we are seen that we are controlling ECZ…We have also complained, as a political party, our deputy secretary general (Mumbi Phiri) and our secretary general (Davies Mwila), are on record and we have been following matters concerning the registration of voters during the current registration period. So, as an equal participant, we have also aired our views to ECZ. We have engaged ECZ just as other political parties, who have engaged ECZ, those that are interested to see that no single Zambian is disenfranchised during the next general election,” said Chama.

Various stakeholders across the political spectrum have expressed frustration at the slow pace of voter registration at multiple ECZ voter registration centres, which had continuously been characterised by long queues, inadequate manpower and faulty equipment.

Despite repeated calls to extend the registration period, the ECZ has maintained the deadline as Saturday, December 12, for any citizen wanting to register to vote in next year’s crucial general election slated for August 12.