It is very surprising that the Electoral Commission of Zambia has not yet set a date and place for the holding of the Masaiti District Council Chairperson By-election following the resignation of the council chairperson elected on October 17, 2016.
Numerous calls from Masaiti District have reached me to help them remind and ask the Commission when it will call for a by-election in Masaiti following the creation of a vacancy by the resignation of Masaiti UPND District Council Chairperson-elect, Edward Musamba, immediately after the 2016 General Elections and remained unfilled since October 17, 2016.
My response is that of surprise too because the republican constitution under Article 57 (1) instructs the Commission to call for a by-election within 90 days of the occurrence of the vacancy. It states, “Where a vacancy occurs in the office of Member of Parliament, mayor, council chairperson or councilor, a by-election shall be held within ninety days of the occurrence of the vacancy.”
And Article 57(3) guides that “the Electoral Commission shall, by regulation, set the place where and the date and time when, a by-election is to be held.” This has not been done by the Commission.
Today marks 13 days to January 17, 2017 whenthe 90 day-period required by the law to hold a by-election in Masaiti will elapse and one wonders whether the Commission will be able to set this date for, give ample time to the contestants to campaign and hold the by-election within 13 days.
Unless there is other genuine reasons for this oversight or delay on the part of the Commission and which warrants it to suspend the constitution, writings are on the wall that the Commission is on high way to breachingthe republican constitution.
To this end, I challenge the Commission to come out in the open and inform the nation when the Masaiti district council chairperson by-election will be held and give reasons for the delayed holding of this by-election.
The people of Masaiti have been deprived of representation at the level of council chairperson as a result of this oversight on the part of the Commission which is undemocratic and an act of undermining the republican Constitution.