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Impassioned plea to the Electoral Commission of Zambia

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ecz-logoBy Bill Kaping’a

According to my humble understanding, your primary role as Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is to spearhead, facilitate and supervise the electoral process of Zambia…….of course in line with the country’s electoral system.

I would like to believe those of you currently serving as commissioners at this august institution are credible and morally upright individuals with unblemished track records in various spheres of life. While some of you may boast of exceptional credentials in the legal fraternity, others such as Madam Emily Sikazwe have been in the trenches toiling with the impoverished people in society fighting for their fair share of equal rights, for many years.

ECZ has always been admired by many and held in the highest esteem, particularly by the international community, as a credible institution. In a few weeks’ time, the country goes to the polls to choose our new leaders. As many would attest to, the build up towards these elections has been wrought with multiple controversies and other vexing issues which only the commission can bring to rest.

For instance, ECZ decided to abruptly award the tender of printing ballot papers to a middle east based company without consulting or coming to a consensus with major stake holders – political parties, civil society, the Church etc. Apart from this, there have been unrelenting reports of ECZ capturing foreigners as registered voters. What about latest news……or is it rumours of some officials from the Ministry of Local Government & Housing colluding with unknown individuals to rig the elections in favour of the ruling party as reported in The Post Newspaper? Is it true that some Town clerks have since been replaced by some user friendly individuals?

In most instances, those in government have carried out their campaigns without any encumbrances while the opposition particularly UPND have had spanners thrown in their campaign machinery. Why were campaign rallies for UPND in Chawama and Kanyama respectively cancelled at the last minute? Isn’t this a democracy where respective political parties must be allowed to interact with the electorate freely? If this was done on security grounds as is being claimed, isn’t the responsibility of the state to provide adequate security and mete out punishment to those intending to interrupt their competitors? Is this a deliberate ploy to prevent the opposition from taking its message to the people? What are the genuine reasons for banning the campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala? Has the state failed to guarantee security of ordinary citizens so as to provide for free and fair elections?

According to what we can remember, this is the first time such a thing is happening in our beloved nation; where are we headed? Are you doing the right thing? Are you sure you are living up to the mandate of ECZ statutes?

When those chains of captivity were broken loose by our liberation heroes, I believe their aspirations were to put a system in place for citizens to elect their own leaders as and when necessary…….democracy, to put it in simple terms…..so that the national cake could be distributed equally. In your hearts of hearts, are you convinced the playing field is leveled? Are you giving citizens enough chance or space to choose their own leaders? How would you want to remembered, as people who lamentably failed to handle a crucial election?

I am sure you are all Christians; on a sacred day like this one, I’d urge you to do some soul searching. Think about how you would wish to be remembered by posterity. Forget about the handsome rewards you’re enjoying today by virtue of your responsibilities; think about the future of your children and children’s children.
Thank you and God bless!

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31