FORMER Attorney General Musa Mwenye SC has noted that political violence is much less in Ghana compared to what is usually witnessed during Zambia’s elections.
And Mwenye says it shouldn’t have taken President Edgar Lungu that long to ask his former ministers to pay back salaries they accrued when they illegally stayed in office after dissolution on Parliament in 2016.
Responding to a press query, Mwenye, who observed elections in Ghana under the Commonwealth election observation group, said the Ghanaian police provided security even for opposition political parties and that the opposition was not blocked from holding meetings and campaigned freely.
“As for the Ghanaian elections, I was privileged to be asked to observe the elections on behalf of the Commonwealth. I was deputy head of the mission and because of COVID, we had a small but effective group. As you may be aware, this is the second time I am observing the Ghanaian elections and this is my 5th election observation mission. Although no election is perfect and the Ghanaian elections are no exception, we Zambians have a lot to learn from Ghana. What stands out is the space which is given to all parties to campaign freely and air their messages even on public media. We don’t see that here in Zambia. The Ghana police also provides security even for opposition political parties and opposition is not blocked from holding meetings and campaigning freely,” Mwenye said.
“The private media has by and large been given the space it needs to operate. Civil society also plays a neutral role to observe, monitor and even conduct private voter tabulation to enhance the credibility of the election. Civil society organizations are very vibrant in Ghana. And Zambia needs to reinvigorate it’s civil society. Finally, Ghanaians take their peace very seriously and the commitment of all leaders in government and opposition to peace is admirable. The levels of political violence are much lower than what we see in our own elections because intimidation is not employed as a routine campaign tactic by politicians and political parties.”
And Mwenye said he was happy that President Lungu had finally asked his former ministers to respect the ConCourt’s decision.
“I am happy that His Excellency the President has reaffirmed the need to respect court judgments. While we commend him for doing so, it really shouldn’t have taken us this long to state the inevitable. The lesson in all this is that when us lawyers become politicians, we should not rely on our own wisdom but must rely on the advice of credible lawyers and institutions who mean well for this country. Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and well meaning lawyers were very clear about the position of the law regarding lawyers remaining in office. And had those in power listened at that time, we wouldn’t be having these conversations now. We are going into another election next year and politicians will be at it again,” said Mwenye.
“To those in government, my advice is for them to veer away from impunity but to respect the rule of law and human rights and the dignity of all Zambians no matter who they support. Lessons are so many. No matter how long it takes, those given to impunity always have a time when they have to give an account.”