Friday, August 05, 2011

Mambilima warns presidential aspirants against making false declarations on their parents’ origins

Mambilima warns presidential aspirants against making false declarations on their parents’ origins
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 05 Aug. 2011, 14:00 CAT

ANY presidential aspirant who makes a false declaration on the birth place or descent of their parents should know the consequences of their action, ECZ chairperson justice Ireen Mambilima has warned.

And PF leader Michael Sata said all the presidential aspirants were not equal with regard to observing the Electoral Code of Conduct because President Rupiah Banda could corrupt and get away with it since he enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

During a closed door meeting between the Electoral Commission of Zambia and all the presidential aspirants in this year’s general elections who included President Banda, Sata, Tilyenji Kaunda, Hakainde Hichilema, Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda among others, justice Mambilima, in response to ADD president Charles Milupi who wanted to find out how the ECZ would ensure that the constitutional requirement requiring presidential aspirant’s parents to be Zambian citizens by birth or descent, said there should be strict adherence to the constitutional provisions.

“If you heard Mr Kamwi ECZ official, when he was talking, the declaration must come from you presidential aspirants that both your parents are Zambians, by birth or descent. That declaration must be made by the candidate. And if you make a false declaration you know the consequences,” justice Mambilima said. “So we expect that…it’s a valid observation.”

In his contribution, Milupi sought assurance from the ECZ on how they would handle the subject of strict adherence to the constitutional requirement pertaining to proof of parental citizenship.

“Article 20 clause 3b is very specific. It does not talk about the parents of the candidate being citizens of this country. It talks about specific citizenship, that is by birth or by descent. I want to get your comment as to what the commission is going to do to ensure that this particular requirement is complied with,” asked Milupi as others applauded.

Milupi also sought assurance from justice Mambilima on how all the presidential aspirants would have access, especially to the public media since the government-controlled media was more of a propaganda machinery for the ruling MMD. Milupi further inquired how the ECZ would ensure strict adherence to the Electoral Code of Conduct, especially with corrupt practices such as the distribution of materials that were not allowed under the Code.

“I have experience in this, madam chairperson, where the last by-election which I participated in, in Luena hippos were killed, buffaloes. People fed prior to the day before the elections,” he said.

Responding to the issues raised by Milupi, justice Mambilima said the ECZ had engaged the state-owned and government-controlled Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), saying each party was entitled to 30 minutes advert time per week according to the Code.

She said the electoral Act was very clear about corruption and vote buying, saying all those were criminal offences and urged political leaders to take a lead in observing the Code.

“Let’s not have a game of hide and seek and ‘as long as no one is looking I can get away with this or that’. As a commission we can only report to the police,” she said.

Thereafter, ECZ spokesperson Chris Akufuna took the floor and drew the participants’ attention to the programme, but Sata had an observation to make.

“I don’t know what you are standing there for because the chairman said something which I wanted to contribute on. Every time I stand, you are interrupting me. Can you tell us who has sent you there?” said Sata as justice Mambilima chipped in: “Yes you can add president Sata.”

Sata said the presidential aspirants who met at Mulungushi International Conference Centre on Wednesday were not equal with regards to observing the Code.

“There are others who have immunity, so they can corrupt,” Sata said, in apparent reference to President Banda.

“The rest of us have no immunity so you find on that basis, there is nothing you can do madam, because we understand your predicament. We understand the predicament of the ECZ. All we need is morality as Gen Miyanda said. This is our country.”

In response, justice Mambilima said the Code applied to everybody.

“So please the point raised that it’s the morality, let’s comply with the Code of Conduct. It’s our document,” said justice Mambilima.

Gen Miyanda said some newspapers which did not have addresses should be removed from the streets.

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