UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka says the ruling party’s losing parliamentary candidates have justifiable reasons for petitioning election results, arguing that the party does not want to be like PF which caused unnecessary by-elections.

But Our-Civic-Duty Association (OCiDA) Executive Secretary Simon Kabanda says by-elections are a drain on the nation’s resources which can be channeled to more productive ventures.

Over 50 parliamentary petitions have been filed in the Lusaka High Court following the just ended August 12 general elections, the majority of which were filed by UPND losing candidates.

In an interview, Mucheleka said the petitioning of election results would avoid future occurrences of electoral malpractices which characterised the 2021 general elections.

“The point is to set the record straight. Elections must not be marred with irregularities such as malpractices, that is the point. It is not a question of what you are talking about. Unless you are telling me that it is okay for people to engage in malpractices. What then will stop UPND next time around from doing the same? So we must be able to clean our politics. There was a lot of vote buying, violence, abuse of institutions, you know that. So how then are you not going to clean up because PF is gone? Next time it is going to be UPND engaging in the same malpractice which PF has been engaging in and that is what we do not want. It is so important that we clean up our politics. We must be able to adhere to the Electoral Process Act,” said Mucheleka.

“So do not talk about the cost of by-elections. We are talking about good governance, it starts with the way we conduct our elections. What are the reasons that the people have given in their petitions? What are the grounds for the petitions? Those are the issues you must be interrogating? You must go back to PF and ask that you have been petitioned on account of engaging in malpractices, what do you have to say? That is the question you must be asking and not asking me about how costly the by-elections will be. Where were you when PF was spending on the cost of by-elections? Of course, we do not want to be like PF and we do not want to have unnecessary by-elections. What we are doing importantly is to clean up our politics so that those who are engaging in politics must do so in full adherence to the regulations and if you abrogate them, you must be held accountable.”

Meanwhile, Kabanda said by-elections were a drain on the nation’s resources which could be channeled to more productive ventures.

“It is a constitutional right to petition the election of a Member of Parliament. Article 73 (1) of the Constitution states that “A person may file an election petition with the High Court to challenge the election of a Member of Parliament”. It is therefore within the constitutional right of the petitioners to file those election petitions. If any of the seats will be nullified, it means that there will be a by-election. Article 72 (8) states that “Where a vacancy occurs in the National Assembly, the Speaker shall, within seven days of the occurrence of the vacancy, inform the Electoral Commission of the vacancy, in writing, and a by-election shall be held in accordance with Article 57’,” said Kabanda.

“By-elections are a drain on the nation’s resources. And the resources that are used during by-elections can be channeled to more productive ventures. By-elections are therefore not productive, but counter-productive. Going forward, as a country we should come up with an electoral system that avoids by-elections at all costs. The country should adopt the Proportional Representation electoral system. According to this electoral system, there are no by-elections whenever a vacancy occurs in the National Assembly.”