RAINBOW Party leader Wynter Kabimba says former vice-president Dr Guy Scott has a right to express his views on governance issues and does not deserve to be called names for doing so.
And Kabimba says the Electoral Commission of Zambia is not to blame for the challenges in the voters registration exercise, arguing that the problem was caused by the fixed election date in the current Constitution.
Commenting PF vice national chairperson Davies Chama’s remarks that Dr Scott should retire from politics and concentrate on his health, Kabimba who is a former PF secretary general and Justice Minister, said Dr Scott should not be called names for simply expressing his opinion on governance issues.
“There is nothing wrong with anybody speaking about or on any matter that concerns governance in the country, that is obvious. I don’t think that is a contentious issue which one should pursue. The issue of freedom of expression is that we all should be able to express ourselves. I don’t think there is any wrong with Guy Scot, if we are going to correct others, I think the language is also important. Guy Scott has his own opinion, Davies Chama has his own opinion, somebody else has his own opinion. Yes, all of us have got the right to express ourselves, Guy Scott thinks ECZ is in a shambles, I don’t think so but he has freedom of speech. He has the right to express himself. Should he be called names for that? No! I don’t think so,” Kabimba said.
And Kabimba said the challenges in the voters registration exercise were caused by having a fixed election date.
“The issue largely in my view has nothing to do with ECZ staff. ECZ has explained itself to all of us that the reason why they had to condense the period for registration of voters is because the fact that they are running against a calendar whose ultimate end is fixed in the Constitution. The date of election is fixed in the Constitution. So ECZ is saying to all of us and they have explained themselves so many times but I don’t know why we always decide to get the negatives against ECZ. They have explained themselves that if elections are going to be held on the 12th of August and we have no choice but to hold elections on the 12th of August because the date is set in the Constitution, which was my argument when people were running headlines that Wynter Kabimba was hiding the Constitution, that you can’t as a third world country fix a date of the election in the Constitution,” Kabimba said.
“You are a poor country, your elections are financed by donors, they have been financed by donors from 1991. In other words you are running a democracy which is dependent on other people’s finances. So my argument when I was Minister of Justice was that these cries coming from workshops because people are copying and pasting from what is happening in America and other countries are not applicable to a third world country.”
Kabimba said unless Parliament, through a two third majority, was to remove that article from the Constitution, the challenges in the voter registration exercise wouldn’t end.
“So, ECZ is saying look we want to extend the process as much as possible but we can’t because the date is fixed in the Constitution. Voters registration, yes, should be continuous according to the act but what of the date of the election which is fixed? Unless you go back and get a two third majority again and remove that article from the Constitution. My argument at the time I was against the President or the practice then for the President to be the one to decide the date of the election. My argument was that let that responsibility be moved to ECZ. So that ECZ which manages and administers elections when it is ready to figure out that now the country is ready with all the logistics then they can announce to the country that the election shall be held on such a date. As long as they are within the five year period which is set in the Constitution. But you see, we always want to debate issues in this country on who has said this. You are reaping what you have sowed. And now you want to turn around and blame the ECZ, I will not be part of that crusade myself,” Kabimba said.
He argued that the introduction of some technology in the voter registration process had also added to the delay in issuance of voters cards.
“As far as I am concerned, the problem is not even with ECZ, the problem is with the technology. What I see is that this new technology which is an addition or an improvement again to the electoral system or the voting system to ensure that there is no cry about rigging where now ECZ wants you to provide 10 of finger prints against one, that has slowed down the process of registration. That biometric system which has been introduced is good for our electoral process and ECZ should be commended for that,” said Kabimba.
“You have improved a system from posting the result from a polling station to ensure that now it is very difficult for anybody to vote more than once because 10 of their finger prints will be required. The second one is that I believe that the officers did not have sufficient time to be trained in this technology. Our level of technological advancements is still backwards because we have to invest colossal sums of money.”