Friday, November 19, 2010

Stop vote-rigging - Kabanda

Stop vote-rigging - Kabanda
By Christopher Miti in Nyimba
Fri 19 Nov. 2010, 03:59 CAT

CITIZENS’ Forum executive secretary Simon Kabanda says there is a need for measures to be put in place to prevent people tampering with votes in an election. And Caritas Chipata has described the voter registration in Eastern Province as “shameful”. Meanwhile, people in Nyimba’s Chamillala ward have said the Vice-President should not be appointed by the President.

In an interview on Wednesday, Kabanda, whose organisation is currently carrying out awareness meetings aimed at ensuring that disabled people’s rights are enshrined in the Constitution, said there was a need to change the law that governed the declaration of votes and the swearing in of the President.

“From the past elections, what has been discovered by the courts and also what those who monitor the counting of votes have discovered is that sometimes the votes are tampered with. One candidate would get a certain amount of votes and yet when the votes from the constituency go to the national centre, the ECZ, they find that the figures that are given are different from what was recorded in the constituencies…,” Kabanda said.

He said what was recommended by the Mung’omba Constitution Review Commission that a president-elect should not be sworn in until after 90 days was supposed to be followed.

“What was recommended by the Mung’omba Commission was also recommended by the Electoral Reform Technical Committee 2003; that was the same thing that was recommended by the Mwanakatwe commission in 1993. So it is clear that to strengthen our multi-party democracy, we need not to rush into swearing in the president-elect. Look at Brazil, the woman who was elected has not been sworn in.

In other countries even the United States, they do that, so why can’t we learn some good practices from other people? This will help us to avoid problems. A few weeks ago, I was in Kenya to find out how they managed to have a successful referendum on the constitution but on the sidelines of that discussion, I also inquired what led to that post-election violence. One of the reasons why people were furious was actually the rush in swearing in the president-elect,” he said.

Kabanda appealed to Parliament to ensure that Article 34 of the Constitution was amended before next year’s election.

And Caritas Chipata Governance unit programmes officer John Mthaziko Zulu said the issuance of National Registration Cards had negatively contributed towards the low voter registration in the province.

“This exercise is becoming shameful because as I am talking to you, I am the chairperson of the Chipata District Voter Education Committee and my voter facilitators have not received any money from the time the period was extended. They are in the field and they are just working without money and when you find that some facilitators are not in the field, you can’t question them. And this is not happening only here but even in other provinces,” said Zulu in an interview in Nyimba on Wednesday.

He said the facilitators who were also school leavers might soon start demonstrating over the unpaid allowances.

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