Poorly managed election recipe for civil strife – Hichilema

By Staff Reporter

AFTER an over two hours meetings with some Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) officials yesterday, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema told journalists that a poorly managed election can bring civil strife in a country.

And Hichilema says civil servants involved in political campaigns were abrogating the law under the watch of ECZ.

Hichilema, accompanied by Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, Mutale Nalumango, Steven Katuka, Patrick Mucheleka and Jack Mwiimbu arrived at Elections House, the ECZ head office in Lusaka slightly after 09:00 hours.

After more than 30 minutes of waiting in the conference room, ECZ vice-chairperson Annette Chirumba Nhekairo, commissioner Ali Simwinga and other officials joined Hichilema and his delegation.

An ECZ official then asked journalists in the conference to leave and wait from outside.

The meeting started at 09:40 hours and Hichilema and his team only emerged slightly after 11:50 hours.

Before leaving the ECZ, Hichilema told waiting reporters that: “We came here to have a meeting with the electoral commission on matters relating to the fairness of the electoral process, as it is now in Sesheke.”

He noted that it was clear from the UPND’s point of view that the electoral commission was not taking seriously matters relating to the electoral ground being unfair.

“Let’s start with Sesheke; our candidate was being enticed by PF to stand on their ticket. When he refused to do that, the PF are using the police to harass our candidate. That constitutes interfering with the electoral process! They’ve been issues in Sesheke [but] they’ve not been resolved,” Hichilema said.

“We cannot abuse institutions of the people to work against the democratic environment in our country.”

He disclosed that his team reminded the ECZ officials of the unlawful involvement of some civil servants in the elections.

“There were a lot of district commissioners in Mangango, including a permanent secretary from State House, who were campaigning for PF and yet they are civil servants and the law does not allow them to campaign in by-elections or general elections. This was not addresed and we’ve seen it happening already, even before nominations. That’s what we have come here to let the electoral commission know that it’s their duty to ensure that the laws that restrict civil servants from abusing public resources….” Hichilema said.

“We brought to their attention the violence that is being orchestrated before, during and after election. For example, in Tuvwanganai ward in Solwezi Central Constituency – it was bloodshed all over in the last round of by-elections. We cannot go into another election without the electoral commission addressing these issues of violence.”

He added that elections should not be used as a time for shedding blood.

“No! They are supposed to be happy moments for us to choose leaders that we believe will serve the people. So, we cannot continue having elections as though there is no problem. That’s what we’ve said to the electoral commission; the electoral commission must step in if they are to maintain their relevance, otherwise they will be irrelevant,” Hichilema explained.

“As somebody said in the meeting, elections that are managed poorly can bring civil strife into a country. We are seeing what is happening in Congo…. So, we expect our candidate to file in there [in Sesheke] without being abuse by the PF using the police and the electoral commission is sitting watching.”

And Hichilema remarked: “We know that they (the ECZ) are being abused by the PF.”
Hichilema added that elections that are poorly managed can bring civil strike in the country.
“We are seeing what is happening in the DRC, they cannot announce election results you can see there is some manipulation going on,” Hichilema said.
He stated that the DRC situation should not spill over to Zambia.
“Infact, maybe following what happened in Zambia in 2016, maybe we exported this to Congo,” he said.
Hichilema has however called for free nomination of candidates slated for 10 January in the sesheke by election.