Saturday, October 18, 2008

Suspicions of rigging worry TIZ

Suspicions of rigging worry TIZ
By Agness Changala
Saturday October 18, 2008 [04:01]

IT is imperative for the government, ECZ and stakeholders to commit themselves to an election which is transparent and free from corruption and suspicion of possible rigging, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has urged. And TIZ has advised Zambia to learn bitter lessons of neighbouring countries that have continued to exhibit scars of failed elections. TIZ president Reuben Lifuka said Zambians must conduct an election that is befitting the country's reputation as a pacesetter for democracy in the region.

“We should seek all opportunities that will unite us as opposed to the numerous and yet unwarranted circumstances that will divide us,” Lifuka said.

He said the October 30 presidential elections would be a litmus test for democracy, adding that all candidates without exception should be above board in their words and deeds.

And Lifuka said the open display of defiance by the MMD despite the existence of an explicit Electoral Code of Conduct was not only worrying but also set a bad example for all other political parties.

“Zambia cannot afford to be divided merely on account of an election,” he said.

Lifuka said the silence and desire by ECZ to unnecessarily defend their inaction were propelling electoral malpractices by different political parties, including the ruling MMD. He expressed concern over the continued abuse of government resources by Vice-President Rupiah Banda's campaign team.

Lifuka said the impunity that Vice-President Banda's campaign team continued to show in the abuse of government resources was partly aided by ECZ's inability to adequately carry out its duties.

“We would like ECZ to be more assertive in the discharge of its duties and we can rest assure them that they will have our support if they decide to nip in the bud all forms of electoral malpractices whether these are committed by the ruling party or the opposition political parties,” Lifuka said.

He said it defied logic to imagine that Vice-President Banda and his entourage needed not only three planes but also government department vehicles to drive around members of the campaign team and cadres.

“We have seen party operatives, sympathisers and image builders jumping on these presidential planes and yet ECZ has not provided appropriate guidelines,” said Lifuka.

“This inertia raises the questions, 'why do we have an Electoral Code of Conduct if we cannot enforce it'?

Lifuka also said TlZ desired an election aftermath which would be peaceful and a moment for all Zambians to congratulate the winner and enjoy a successful electoral process.

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