Saturday, March 26, 2011

ECZ, MMD want to manipulate polls - Shamenda

ECZ, MMD want to manipulate polls - Shamenda
By Darious Kapembwa in Kitwe and Misheck Wangwe in Lusaka
Sat 26 Mar. 2011, 04:00 CAT

IT is embarrassing that ECZ wants to connive with the MMD to manipulate the elections by refusing parallel vote tabulation, says Fackson Shamenda. And Fr Richard Luonde says it is nonsense to say that the Catholic Church or anyone supporting the PVT wants to put Michael Sata into office.

In an interview, Shamenda, a former Zambia Congress of Trade Unions president, said the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the government would cause chaos in the country over PVT because the Law Association of Zambia had categorically stated that it was not illegal. The ECZ yesterday said it would not tolerate PVT system despite the Law Association of Zambia stating that the exercise is legal.

Shamenda said there was need for government, ECZ and people opposing PVT to stop the malicious schemes against Zambia's democracy by accepting that PVT was an important aspect during elections.

“Apprehension on this matter will only provoke Zambians to completely reject any outcome from the elections because everyone will be convinced that the results have been manipulated,” Shamenda said.

“President Banda's government and the MMD should not be afraid of this if they mean real democracy. Zambia is not a barracks where you command people to turn left or right. We are in a democratic dispensation where people's demands must be met and respected by the sitting government.”

Shamenda said the arrogance of the government and ECZ over PVT would force the people to rise and demand justice over the matter. He said Zambia was in need of a government that would democratise the country's laws and strengthen the electoral system by not being jittery on issues such as PVT.

He said individuals and organisations that were calling on government and the ECZ to allow PVT had nothing personal against President Banda or the electoral commission but were only interested in credible elections.

“Those opposing PVT should stop it. They are the ones who want to bring chaos because people who are calling for this exercise want free, fair and credible elections. It is sad that we have a government that only respects the views of LAZ only if it is in their favour,” said Shamenda.

On Wednesday, LAZ issued a statement saying PVT was not illegal in Zambia. LAZ president Stephen Lungu stated that there was no provision in the current law that criminalises the system.

“The determination whether an act or an omission amounts to a criminal offence is guided by the provisions of Article 18(8) of the Constitution which states in part - '(8) A person shall not be convicted of a criminal offence unless that offence is defined and the penalty is prescribed in a written law',” Lungu stated.

“On the basis of this provision, the legal requirement is that for an act or omission to amount to a criminal offence, that act or omission should be cleared, defined and/or described and the penalty attendant on that act or omission should be stipulated with certainty. Our reading of the Constitution, the electoral Act and the regulations made thereunder and indeed the Zambian statute book in general has not revealed any definition or description of an act that can be associated with PVT. On that basis therefore, our view is that the practice of PVT is not illegal and is definitely not a criminal offence.”

And in a walk-in interview at The Post office in Kitwe, Fr Luonde, an Anglican Priest, said there was no logic in advancing arguments against PVT that were not supported by the law.

He challenged information minister Ronnie Shikapwasha and the ECZ to quote the law that criminalises PVT.

“Whether criminal or not, we are going ahead with PVT and no one and nothing will stop us as Get Involved Zambia,” said Fr Luonde.

“PVT is a must and we will use it as a church and it is nonsense to say that the Catholic Church or anyone in support of PVT wants to put Sata into office, that's wrong. All we want is to have the same results that will be announced at the totalling centre as those from polling stations. We don't expect results to change in mid-air.”

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