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How we can avoid a costly Presidential By-election

Filed under: Politics,Special Comments |

By Eros Ilunga

Before I go into the subject at hand, I would like to pass my condolences to the First Family, the Patriotic Front and indeed the people of Zambia on the passing on of the fifth republican president Mr Michael Chilufya Sata.

The demise of Mr Sata has generated a lot of debate regarding the way the succession should be done or should have been done. There are also concerns about holding another presidential election, the second in six years. Some are suggesting that we forego the presidential by-election now and only hold elections in 2016. This is what I will address myself to.

Before I delve into that subject I would like to state that the PF is to blame for the current state of affairs. We as a nation could have avoided a costly presidential by-election and indeed the confusion surrounding transfer of power on the death of a president. The PF had an opportunity to enact a more progressive constitution but they chose to play politics because the new constitution threatened their hold to power.  The PF told us that Zambia had a functional constitution and so there was no hurry for a new constitution. But that discussion is for another day.

First of all it is not possible to forego the presidential by-election because that will be unconstitutional. Our current constitution is unequivocal on the fact that a presidential by-election must be held within 90 days after the death of the president.

However, we can avoid some costs if those in government and in the opposition can come to some consensus. The PF and the opposition should agree that no one apart from the PF candidate should file in for nomination. This will then mean that the PF candidate will be unopposed and therefore declared president. That way we shall technically avoid the by-election.

Now this can only happen if there is give-and-take from both PF and the opposition. The opposition must agree not to file for nominations and the PF must agree to give some ministerial positions to leading opposition leaders.

I believe this will be good for the country for two main reasons. First we need continuity so that the PF can continue to implement projects Mr Sata initiated. Secondly the nation can avoid the huge costs of holding a by-election. Remember, we need to have another election in a year’s time. May I also add that a by-election of this nature will most likely trigger electoral violence.

For the sake of our great nation I call upon the PF and the opposition to consider this alternative.



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