UPND Alliance member Kelvin Bwalya Fube says Zambians should be careful with the dictatorial approach which President Edgar Lungu has taken with regards to the electoral process.
And Fube has accused President Lungu of directing the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to accommodate a campaign schedule that suits him.
In an interview, Wednesday, Fube said ECZ’s decision to ban all forms of campaigns for UPND and PF was made as a result of President Lungu’s statement on Sunday when he warned that he would invoke provisions of the Constitution on elections if the Commission and the Zambia Police Service failed to curtail political violence in the country.
He argued that situations were creating an enabling environment for a dictator to emerge.
“Everything is draconian, when you see a government becoming draconian in its approach, when you see a government becoming dictatorial in its approach, when you see a government refusing to dialogue and that permeates to the other institutions of governance; you as Zambians better be very careful. Because that means now that you are creating an enabling environment for a dictator to emerge. There are no grounds here for the threats that my brother, President Edgar Lungu, issued when he was fishing, there are no grounds whatsoever!” Fube said.
“All we saw him do was collapse in the morning, go fishing in the afternoon, then he conducts an interview and he starts saying ‘I have information that they are trying to do this’, there is no information bwana, there is nothing. What we want is a free and fair election and in this case, the rule of engagement must be with the ECZ. They must take control of these elections and not start taking orders from the PF candidate.”
Fube said President Lungu had failed to deal with political violence.
“You will see that all these camps name them; commandos at Town Center, Intercity, my young brother Inno in Chawama, 70 70 in Kanyama and all these groups that they have, who is sponsoring them? Don’t you see the same group escorting Edith Nawakwi when she is campaigning? Don’t you see the same group escorting Tasila when she is campaigning? Don’t you see the same group escorting GBM when he is campaigning? Don’t you see the same group surrounding Kambwili when he is campaigning? Don’t you see the same group taking instructions from Kampyongo, they pretend to be fighting but we all know these things, they are not fighting, they take instructions,” Fube said.
“Apart from one statement or two from Davies Mwila that ‘Inno is not our member’ but he is mingling with top party officials and he is being accepted. So, who do you want to fool here? The PF has not handled the issue of violence properly. In particular my older brother, the President of this country Edgar Chagwa Lungu, he has failed to deal with the violence because he has not spoken against it in the manner that the militia or the youth would understand. If he had been firm, directive as a commander and chief that order would have been obeyed.”
He charged that it was the top PF leadership which was funding militia groups.
“I will tell you why that order is not being observed. The funding is coming exactly from there. Why I am saying that? I know the system in PF, I was there. I know the system how it works; I was there. Where does Inno’s commandos or his militia operate from? Which property? You try to investigate in Chawama whose property is that? So, you can’t come and start telling me we are curbing violence when you are the ones fuelling it. The violence is only from one party, the PF is a violent party. If the police themselves are agreeing that the violence is coming from the PF, what more evidence do you need? Social media doesn’t lie, you cannot run away from a voice note, you can’t run away from videos and the evidence is there for all to see,” Fube said.
“I want you to tell me where members of the UPND Alliance attacked PF? There is only one violent party here, and the reason they are being violent is because they have seen the tide turning. Now they want to intimidate and instil fear and threaten people, so that people begin to fear and not attend the road shows. This will also impact the elections. In fact, it may lead to apathy, which we don’t want. We want a huge voter turnout so that people exercise their vote, people must feel what it means to go and buy cooking oil at K350. They must feel that pain when they are voting. The doctors were on strike, what did we see, their head Brian Sampa he has been fired, he has been suspended, what are you doing? Why not dialogue.”
Fube said it was unfortunate that ECZ was failing to dialogue with stakeholders on important decisions regarding the electoral process
“The problem we have in my honest opinion is that the Electoral Commission of Zambia is not engaging in dialogue. Therefore, they are failing to take control of the electoral process. The Alliance engaged the Electoral Commission way before, I think Wednesday last week and they demanded that dialogue be engaged between and amongst the political players. Over the weekend the Alliance partners were summoned by the Inspector General of police and the same position was adopted. The police actually agreed and offered to facilitate dialogue between the political players and the ECZ. Before the ECZ could even dialogue with the political parties, before they could dialogue with the police and find out the real cause of the violence, they come up with a draconian decision to ban political rallies,” Fube lamented.
“First of all, we must understand [that] this is a COVID period, second of all the period left for campaigns is very short, so you do not take such drastic actions before you engage the players. You, as the Electoral Commission, you are now being dictated by a candidate in the name of a Patriotic Front candidate, because he issued this threat when he was fishing, we heard it. Then it was repeated by the Electoral Commission. We are law abiding citizens, we want to abide by the rules that the Electoral Commission of Zambia is going to create and give to the political parties. However, they must be fair to the parties. We don’t have enough time; we don’t have these shenanigans to start dancing around.”
He said ECZ’s decision to ban campaign activities was an effort to try and impress President Lungu.
“I am sorry to say but Mr Nshindano is not in control of the electoral process. He seems to be directed, he seems to be receiving directives either from the chairperson Judge (Esau) Chulu or the President. As an Alliance we sat yesterday and we deliberated on this issue, we had given them an ultimatum, we want a meeting with the Electoral Commission immediately. We will not sit idly and see them waste our time. The tide is turning and when they feel the pressure is beginning to mount, they begin to dance around and start telling the Electoral Commission what to do, it won’t work! The Zambians are fed up! The Zambians don’t want their time wasted,” he said.
“When you seemingly ban two political parties, the PF and the UPND, you are opening chances for other political parties to move in. How fair is that? Now you are allowing other players on the scene who you have not banned to move in and start campaigning because there is a void. How fair is that? In my considered view with greatest respect to Patrick Nshindano, he lacks experience. He may be qualified on paper but he lacks the experience to run an electoral process. Therefore, because he is playing out of fear, he wants to please a candidate of the Patriotic Front.”
Fube further said ECZ was trying to accommodate a campaign timetable which would suit President Lungu.
“This cannot be allowed in a democratic dispensation. We cannot have a candidate pretending simply because maybe he is not feeling well, [he needs] time to recuperate so that now he can come when he is fit. Then now we can all campaign at his own pace, which country is that? We have arsenals we want to start servicing and charging. The main areas are within here, in the Lusaka Province where there is a bigger population. The Lusaka Province people are the ones who are feeling the pinch of this economy. They are the ones we are supposed to be talking to everyday,” said Fube.
“So, we will not sit idly by and accept that the PF candidate must be the one dictating the pace at which this election campaign is going to run. It is unfair, it is undemocratic and we must begin to dialogue. So, we have called for dialogue with the Electoral Commission, we hope that Nshindano will be forthright in his approach and ensure that he begins to run the elections and not take decisions because he has been directed by a candidate by the PF. That we will not accept. What we don’t want however, is to take legal action because we know that the courts just take time and waste our time. We are burdening the courts doing nothing.”