Friday, March 18, 2011
By Abigail Chaponda in Ndola and Chibaula Silwamba in Lusaka
Fri 18 Mar. 2011, 11:10 CAT
THE Catholic Church is advocating the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) and will stand by it, says Ndola Diocese Bishop Alick Banda. CARITAS Zambia has said President Rupiah Banda’s position on PVT has revealed that either his legal advisors are incompetent or he does not listen to their advice.
Launching the 2010-2012 elections strategy at the Diocese in Ndola yesterday, Bishop Banda said there was nothing criminal about the PVT.
“If we have the PVT in place, it is going to answer all the questions that people have over elections. I don’t see anything criminal about the PVT. We are going to dialogue with government and stakeholders so that when we come to the election days, issues should be clear,” he said.
Bishop Banda said the Catholic Church was not going to take over the running of the elections but that the Church would work with established institutions to make sure those underhand methods such as dribbling, rigging, manipulation and intimidations were not there.
“The 2010-2012 election strategy is an initiative of the Catholic Church in Zambia in line with the Church’s resolve to actively participate in contributing to the attainment of a credible electoral process,” he said. “You will agree with me that in Africa in general, Zambia in particular, we suffer from unclear electoral processes that cast a dark cloud on free and just elections, underhand methods such as dribbling, rigging and manipulation and intimidation are not uncommon,”
Bishop Banda said the notion that the Church should busy itself with incense and votive candle or better retire in the sacristy showed only parsimonious (lack of generosity) of those who champion such a cause because electoral decisions, good or bad equally affected the Church which was part of the community of Zambia.
Bishop Banda said as the Church, they did not seek political power or control but the opportunity to intensify, argue, protest or affirm something adding that the Church was playing its part in the public debates of the society.
He said the 2010-2012 election strategy was an attempt to provide a transparent, credible, and a non-partisan electoral process to complement the government system.
The Bishop said strategy would include dialogue on electoral policies, the legal framework and electoral-related procedures.
He said elections strategy would endeavour to lobby and advocate for a meaningful and comprehensive participation of all stakeholders in the electoral cycle (pre-voting, voting and post voting periods).
“The Catholic Church of Ndola has so far managed to monitor the issuance of National Registration Cards (NRC) and voter registration exercises. I am glad to note that our parishioners have to obtain NRCs and register as voters,” he said.
Bishop Banda hoped that the Church would contribute towards bringing about credible, free and just elections and subsequently usher in an authentic democracy which respects constitutionalism.
And commenting on President Banda’s criminal offence threats against advocates of PVT, Caritas Zambia executive director Sam Mulafulafu said it was extremely embarrassing for President Banda to threaten that tabulating and computing results already announced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is a criminal offence. He was convinced that either government had very incompetent legal advisors or those being advised choose not to listen to their technocrats.
“It is difficult to fathom how our President can make such a legally incorrect statement in the presence of our very senior judges who also seem to find it convenient to keep quiet even when they know that the President was wrong,” stated Mulafulafu in a press release. “No wonder ECZ chairperson justice Ireen Mambilima refused to comment on the statement, categorically stating that she is not the legal advisor to government. My interpretation of her statement is that she did not want to be associated to the falsehood and politically convenient statements.”
Mulafulafu said when he was FODEP president, during the tenure of both judge Bobby Bwalya and justice Mambilima as ECZ chairpersons,they carried out the PVT.
“The President must be sincere in his criminalisation of the PVT. It is common knowledge that his own party, the MMD, will tally results as forwarded by the party agents from polling station all over the country. It is, in fact, folly for any political party participating in the elections not to place agents at polling stations and tally results,” said Mulafulafu.