Saturday, February 02, 2013

We're not to blame for by-elections - Sata

We're not to blame for by-elections - Sata
By Ernest Chanda
Sat 02 Feb. 2013, 13:00 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata says his government should not be blamed over opposition members of parliament defecting to the ruling PF.

Responding to a pastoral letter by Catholic Bishops in which they, among others, expressed concern about the growing number of by-elections, President Sata said such defections were caused by dictatorial tendencies in respective opposition political parties.

"It is therefore, unfair to criticise the PF government when opposition members of parliament decide to quit due to intolerable situations solely incited by high-handed leaders in their political parties. By law, it remains a requirement that within three months of a seat falling vacant, a by-election ought to be held," President said in a statement issued by his special assistant for press and public relations George Chellah.

"It has to be borne in mind that whatever the cause, the law has to be upheld. Within the democratic discourse of a multiparty political system, the principles of free entry and free exit to and from one party to the other, cannot be outlawed.

And we welcome a broad range of law-abiding citizens, including MPs to join the party. The concerns raised by our beloved and revered Bishops in their Pastoral letter with respect to the spate of parliamentary by-elections cannot be blamed on this administration, but can be traced back to poor and autocratic leadership in political parties that have failed to inspire their parliamentarians."

President Sata said it was not the first time that such a political situation was prevailing in the country.

President Sata said that his administration fully understood its limitations as enshrined in the Republican constitution and would remain open to dialogue with all stakeholders.

"As regards the appointment of some MPs from the opposition, we wish to remain true to the constitutional order that permits any elected MP to be eligible to be appointed as minister. Again here there is no violation of the Constitution in any way because all MPs are eligible to be appointed to ministerial posts," said President Sata.

"This position is not new. Others before me have appointed MPs from other parties. It is therefore grossly unfair to accuse us of creating by-elections. We therefore take note of the pertinent issues raised by the Catholic Church in the Pastoral statement on the occasion of their January 2013 plenary."

In its pastoral letter early this week, the Catholic Church expressed concern over the high number of defection form the opposition to the ruling party, and the by-election that followed.

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