Nkombo says ECZ commissioners must go on sabbatical to reflect

Nkombo says ECZ commissioners must go on sabbatical to reflect

By Malawo Malawo

GARRY Nkombo says the Electoral Commission of Zambia is a completely discredited institution whose commissioners should go on a reflective sabbatical.

But Kabwe Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube says the ECZ is a very credible institution.

Debating the 2017 budgetary allocation of K74,336,606 to the ECZ in Parliament on Wednesday, Nkombo, the Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament, noted that while the commission deserved parliamentary support, the body “has been weighed and found wanting”.

“Why I’m saying so is because as the acting leader of government business (Richard Musukwa) has stated, the institution is supposed to be autonomous and it is supposed to be free of any influence from wherever in its discharge of functions,” Nkombo said. “Now, I want to put it to you madam chair that the shenanigans that we are having in this country today – the hate, the mistrust, the fury – can be traced back to the conduct of this commission going by the way it discharged elections in the immediate past.”

He observed that according to the electoral process Act number 35, the ECZ, among other functions, needed to ensure that it criminalised corrupt practices and prescribe penalties for would-be offenders.

“Now, we have seen from the Electoral Commission of Zambia the amount of cleavage that they have created for this country,” Nkombo regretted.

He also charged that the ECZ had misbehaved by allowing recording of results that had no support of the Gen 12 certificates, which were primary documents in the elections.

“I heard the mover of this particular report saying they are going to make a postmortem of the just-ended task in 2017. My view, on the contrary, is that they (ECZ) should be on sabbatical to make reflections on the mistakes that they made, to cause injuries to the public of this country. They should go and make reflections on their personas! They should go and make reflections on whether they are totally independent. The ECZ is a completely discredited organisation that should go on sabbatical!” said Nkombo.

“To put money for them to go and make a postmortem of things that are already known, where even the Head of State has put a commission of inquiry about violence that happened during elections…the recipe for that violence was not the incompetence of the commission but maybe the lack of teeth for them to bite. If any money has to be put in there, it must be given some powers to prosecute so that we test them whether they are any different from the Zambia Police who, when it’s time for PF to demonstrate on Cairo Road and Independence Avenue, they do not need a permit.”

But Ngulube said: “It is very clear that the ECZ is a very credible institution; that is why all of us are here today.”

And on the same motion, Chirundu UPND member of parliament Douglas Syakalima said the electoral process in the run-up to the August 11 general elections was marred by chaos, starting with the registration of voters.

“There were several allegations that many foreigners were registered and some foreigners even accepted that they registered. That brings to question the credibility of the Electoral Commission of Zambia. In fact, if I had my way, I could have disbanded this Electoral Commission of Zambia because there is no way we can appropriate money to a body which almost caused chaos in this country, save for the people who felt injured [but] still behaved,” explained Syakalima.

Kasempa UPND member of parliament Brenda Tambatamba urged the ECZ to execute elections with utmost seriousness.
The departmental budget was later passed with a unanimous vote.