Electoral violence inquiry won’t be swayed by appointing authority, assures Lisimba

Electoral violence inquiry won’t be swayed by appointing authority, assures Lisimba.

By Malawo Malawo

MUNALULA Lisimba, the chairperson of the commission of inquiry into voting patterns and electoral violence, says they will not be swayed by partisan interests in their execution of duty.

President Edgar Lungu on October 21 established a 15-member team to, among other terms of reference, inquire into the violence during elections between 2006 and 2016 and the root causes of such patterns.

The commission is also examining to what extent pre-election violence could have influenced the voting patterns in the August 11 general elections.

Appearing on Muvi TV’s The Assignment programme, (retired) justice Lisimba argued that the loyalty of the commission would not be to President Lungu but that it would remain resolute and endeavour to bring out the truth.

“I don’t think our allegiance is to the appointing authority. You see, we are non-partisan and even the President when he appointed [us], he appointed people from various backgrounds and people of integrity. We took an oath of office to discharge our functions fully, effectively and impartially. So, we don’t expect that simply because we’ve been appointed by the President that we are going to be biased, I don’t think that will happen. If we just appease the President, we are not solving the problem,” justice Lisimba said.

He also assured that people who would testify before the commission would not be victimised.

“Everybody is going to be protected and we’ve been in touch with the police command and they’ve confirmed that witnesses will not be molested [because] they will be given maximum protection,” justice Lisimba assured.

And asked why electoral violence had to be investigated by a commission when perpetrators of the vice were, to a large extent, known, justice Lisimba indicated that such knowledge was uncertain.

“That’s a general statement; it’s just like somebody who says a person who is suspected of murder must just be arrested without trial. You see, our situation is that we have people who are suspected to have been involved in that. First of all, there’s no authentic evidence to show that in fact these people are the ones who caused the violence,” said justice Lisimba.

“We also don’t have the evidence as to why the violence was caused; was it out of provocation? Was it out of mere politicking? Was it out of self-defence? So, we need to establish the root cause of this violence. We know definitely there was violence but we don’t know by empirical evidence who caused the violence and where, when.”