JUSTICE Minister Given Lubinda says anyone trying to petition President Edgar Lungu’s eligibility is threatening Zambia’s peace.

Debating President Lungu’s address on the progress made in the application of national values and principles, Lubinda said those planning to petition President Lungu’s eligibility were trying to create an environment of suspicion in the country.

“Mr Speaker, I am also extremely worried that in the run-up to an election, we heard statements such as the ones we heard in a country that has been referred to as ‘the mother of democracy,’ that, ‘unless I win, these elections have been rigged.’ Even before the first ballot is cast, you have already declared yourself a winner, such statements are the ones that breed discontent, such are statements that attack the existence of peace. I would like to implore upon all politicians, you cannot read the minds of the people before they say what is in their minds. You can, therefore, not count the votes before they are cast,” Lubinda said.

“Sir, it is a threat to peace when people say, ‘we have already drafted a petition, we are going to petition Edgar Chagwa Lungu when he files nomination.’ If you want to file a petition, as you are well aware, Sir, any person who has a real case to present before the adjudicator, will not go announcing, ‘I’m going to court tomorrow,’ especially on an election. What they will do is to hold it close to their hearts and go and file it when it matters the most. The reason why we are hearing all this is because people are trying to create an environment of suspicion in the country so that when President Edgar Lungu is declared winner they say, ‘after all, we told you…’ That is a threat to peace! I would like to implore all of us, especially parliamentarians as we bid farewell to this House, we go out there to preach peace and to be willing to lose!”

Lubinda said claims of selectiveness in regions in relation to voter registration was also a threat to peace.

“Let me focus on a few matters, one is the call by His Excellency for peaceful conduct of elections. This is a call to his government and to every citizen of this country. Peace cannot elude a country if all its citizens conduct their affairs peacefully. It is not the Executive that can take away peace, it is the citizens and how they conduct themselves. The Executive’s role is just to ensure that the environment is one that curtails anyone who wishes to breach the presence of peace. When His Excellency said, ‘we are going to conduct elections in a peaceful environment,’ he did not realise that they will be amongst us who will give it upon themselves to start regionalising the country,” said Lubinda.

“Putting parts of the country together and saying, ‘these parts of the country, these regions registered higher numbers of voters than these regions, and because of these, the elections shall be rigged,’ as though to suggest that when the ECZ was going out to register, they were saying that, ‘here, we only want to register so many.’ Yet the ECZ opened registration to every citizen. People volunteered to go and register. But to come in Parliament and say, ‘these regions have few registered voters and, therefore, the elections are bound to be rigged,’ what are you implying? You are implying that those areas that you are speaking about having registered less are opposed to the ruling party.”

And National Guidance and Religious Affairs Minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili said that government should be commended for reducing opportunities for theft and corruption.

“The aspirations of the people of Zambia are to see a united, peaceful and prosperous nation where there is respect for one another without discrimination. In addition, we want to see the environment taken care of and the assets of the nation transparently accounted for. Mr Speaker, His Excellency, the President of Zambia, emphasised in his speech the need for all of us to be patriotic and love one another as ‘One Zambia, One nation.’ We need to respect the rule of law and institutions that we, the people, have established in the Constitution, such as the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the Anti-Corruption Commission, among others. Fighting corruption is everybody’s responsibility. Mr Speaker, government is commended for reducing opportunities for theft and corruption and enhancing transparency and accountability by introducing the Public Procurement Act of 2020 and the Public Finance and Management Act Number 1 of 2018. Government is also using technology to make online payments as a way of improving service delivery and accountability,” said Rev Sumaili.

Meanwhile, Gwembe UPND member of parliament Attractor Chisangano complained that Zambia had lost its status of being one of the peaceful countries due to escalating levels of political violence.

“Good governance is very important for the benefit of all Zambians. Why should they be discrimination in the allocation of resources among the citizens of Zambia? We need a government, Mr Speaker, that will take care and even protect all the citizens of this country. Look at the Honeybee scandal! Zambians felt not to have been protected. Finally, Mr Speaker, for years Zambia was rated as one of the most peaceful countries in Africa. What is the situation now? There is political violence every day, especially where they are by-elections and general elections,” said Chisangano.

“We have seen citizens being killed and even being beaten up by political cadres. Where are we heading to? Is it going to occur even in the coming general elections that would take place in August? Mr, Speaker Zambia needs a serious government, a government that would protect and serve the people of this nation. However, I would say, all hope is not lost as we are looking forward to the elections of 12th August, 2021, where we know that we are going to elect a president who is going to protect and take the interest of all Zambians at heart. That man is no one, but Hakainde Hichilema.”