Monday, July 08, 2013

ECZ not intimidated by anyone, says Mambilima
By Christopher Miti in Chipata
Sun 30 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

ELECTORAL Commission of Zambia chairperson Justice Ireen Mambilima says the commission cannot be intimidated by anyone not even the ruling party.

And Justice Mambilima says the destiny of Zambbia is in the hands of the youths and that they can decide the future they want for the country.

Meanwhile, ECZ director Priscilla Isaacs says youths should refuse to be used in violence.

Answering questions from youths on whether ECZ was intimidated by the ruling party when she officiated at the ECZ youth conference against electoral malpractices and violence under the theme "Support Peaceful Elections" at Luangwa House om Friday, Justice Mambilima said the commission was completely independent and that sometimes it had made decisions that did not please the ruling party.

She gave an example of the postponement of the Livingstone by-election which she said nobody including the ruling party agreed with.

"Somebody made very unpleasant communication to the director, 'you have postponed the election, we are going to bring the dead body of our cadre to your office'. Of course she was also met by a barrage of other angry words. We took that independent decision to postpone the elections because according to us, we assessed the situation that the environment in Livingstone was not conducive to hold peaceful elections," Justice Mambilima said.

She also gave an example of the printing of ballot papers as one of the areas where the ECZ made independent decisions.

"For us we are not scared, even PF we have told them to their face," Justice Mambilima said.

And Justice Mambilima said violence had destroyed many countries.
She said the youths could decide whether to be a peaceful or violent people.

"You don't need to go very far, just look around us even in Africa, how much damage violence can do to a country. I was in Kenya in 2007, that election which caused so much violence. It was because of intolerance between political parties between people and between tribes," Justice Mambilima said.

She said Zambbia needed a message of peace.

"As a commission, we want to raise a cadre of youths who are knowledgeable, a cadre of youths who will be instrumental in this country, to drive the agenda of this country forward. We want even more youths to register as voters so that most of them take that responsibility to vote during elections," Justice Mambilima said.
She expressed concern over the voter apathy that had characterised most elections in the country.

"We have seen now apathy during elections; fewer and fewer people are turning up to vote. Why is this so? Are people losing confidence in the electoral process or is it in the governance of this country? Because the system we follow is such that all the leaders have to be elected by the people. I have seen this laisser-faire attitude, some people you speak to them why they don't get to vote, they will say, 'what is the use because you vote for somebody who is going to enjoy'. It's much deeper than that," Justice Mambilima said.

She said the youths were the most vulnerable because old people were using them in violent activities.

And Isaacs said the aim of the conference was to let the youths know the consequences of electoral violence among other electoral process -related issues.

She said it was unfortunate that political leaders who use youths to engage in violence do not use their own children.

"Do not be used, there is no need for violence. Wße have the history of peace, we are open minded people," said Isaacs.

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