NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili says it is foolish for ECZ to extend the voter registration exercise by four day.
In an interview, Kambwili argued that the ECZ’s decision to extend for only four more days, lapsing Sunday, showed a lack of seriousness on the part of the Commission as they were now guaranteed not to hit the intended nine million target of eligible voters.
The Commission has so far registered 6.4 million voters in the last one month.
“[This is] foolishness of the worst kind, foolishness of the worst kind! An insult to the people of Zambia, and the playing of games by the Electoral Commission of Zambia. This is a lack of seriousness. Look, the whole essence and the reason why we called for a voter extension was because we wanted, first and foremost, to hit the nine million expected voters. Secondly, the reason why people have not registered so much, particularly in the rural areas, is that it is farming time. It is the agriculture period, the rainy season. The month of November and December are months where people prepare their fields, plan and till the land. So, what we are asking for is an extension, which will go in the months that don’t have much farming activity. We wanted an extension for, at least, minimum the end of January to allow those who are in the fields to come and register,” Kambwili said.
“But I don’t know what is in the head of that boy called [Patrick] Nshindano (ECZ chief electoral officer) and the entire ECZ board, whether they are called a board or whatever they are called. I really don’t understand them. Are they telling me that in those four days, the people will leave their fields and come to register? You see, when you fail to run an institution, the best you can do is to own up and leave! Since that boy came to ECZ, ECZ has been turned into a kindergarten. Really, I don’t know what they want to achieve. If they have failed to run the elections, let them just tell us they have failed, so that we find other people to run the elections. Those in government, please take action and provide leadership. It is clear that this ECZ has failed! What an insult! Four days extension, you even go to announce it? Surely, you even go and announce it, Nshindano? Kwena mwaiche alifulungana (he is confused). It is unreasonable and the biggest joke of the year! We need an extension to a minimum of one month and a maximum of about two months, not what they are saying. So, for me, it is a joke and I don’t take it seriously.”
Kambwili also complained that it was nonsensical for ECZ to attribute the fixed election date and lack of funding as the basis for the commission not to extend the voter registration process to a much later date.
“We can’t buy that nonsense from them! When we were at the presidential Summit, Nshindano said they were ready for the elections. When you say you are ready for the elections, what do you mean? It simply means that all logistics have been given to you. They told us they are ready. They never, in that meeting, bemoaned the lack of funding. If, in that meeting, they had stated that they have a problem of funding, we could have engaged government as the opposition so that they would give them money. But the communication they gave us was that they were ready for the elections,” he recalled.
“When they talk about the electoral calendar, let them not even dare go that route, because the Constitution now provides when the date of the next election will be. They knew, from the time Edgar Lungu signed the new Constitution, when the elections will be held. What were they doing to talk about the electoral calendar? We don’t eat nonsense or stupidity! The Constitution was signed on the 5th of January, 2016, and the date of the election was defined in that Constitution. How can they start talking about time? The Constitution clearly states that there will be continuous voter registration. What were they doing from 2016 to-date to come and cry and bemoan the lack of time? To me, that is a lot of nonsense!”
Meanwhile, Kambwili, the former Roan PF member of parliament, urged Zambians to stop being docile and speak on the many ills affecting the country.
“The problem is that us Zambians tend to agree even when people are misbehaving! I am telling you, if this was in other countries, that Electoral Commission could have been forced out of the office by demonstrations! Here in Zambia, we are so docile and that is why you have seen that I have gone quiet on talking about these issues because it appears that Zambians are complacent, they are happy with what is happening. So, why should I be wasting my time as an individual to be putting myself in problems talking for people who do not want to act. They have given you four days, you are quiet, what kind of people are we? This country, we really need to be serious!” said Kambwili.
“This docility will make this country kneel. I remember what even Mr Sata said, ‘all the educated people are cowards’. It is true. We have so many highly-educated people who are able to differentiate sense from nonsense, but where is their voice on issues like this? They want the same people to be speaking all the time, and when they speak, they land themselves into problems. Surely, merely asking what business the President does with [Valden] Findlay, I can be put on my defence? Merely asking and people are quiet? Is it normal?”