Saturday, November 20, 2010

ECZ isn’t independent to conduct 2011 polls - Tilyenji

ECZ isn’t independent to conduct 2011 polls - Tilyenji
By George Zulu
Sat 20 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

TILYENJI Kaunda says Zambia’s electoral commission is not independent from political interference to conduct free and fair elections next year.

In an interview, Kaunda, who is UNIP president said, it would be difficult to hold free and fair elections which would be accepted next year with the current set up of Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). He observed that there was need to strengthen the ECZ and make it independent from political influence.

Kaunda warned that a failure to overhaul the ECZ would make it a source of conflict during and after elections.

“We have seen that ECZ in its current form cannot hold free and fair elections and the call by stakeholders to have it overhauled is justified because if we are not careful next year Zambia will experience more violence than ever before because of the disputes that come with such elections. There are many issues that the commission has failed to address starting with electoral malpractices and this should encourage stakeholders to demand for sanity in the manner elections are held,” Kaunda said.

He said a free and fair electoral body was important in championing democracy unlike the current situation where institutions of democracy and governance such as the judiciary, police and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) were compromised and had failed to exhibit high moral standards during elections.

Kaunda said since 1996 Zambia’s electoral system had experienced difficult times in the manner elections were held because of poor and corrupt leadership in the management of the electoral process of the nation.

“In 1996 the MMD government introduced a law that barred traditional leaders from active involvement in politics, there was also another law that barred some people because of parentage and they (MMD) won that election. However, what is contentious now is how free and fair the current ECZ is. In 2001, it was clear that the man Mazoka (late UPND president) had won the elections but things changed towards the end, it was the same in 2006 and 2008 PF leader Michael Sata had won those elections and it is something that nobody can debate and it is dangerous if people fail to accept the results. So it calls for the total overhaul of the system in order to have not only free and fair but credible elections,” he said.

He added that Zambians would judge leaders harshly if they failed to provide adequate laws to govern the country’s electoral process which would inspire confidence from the electorates and other stakeholders.

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