Friday, August 16, 2013

Corrupt politicians shouldn't stand
By Editor
Fri 26 July 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE proposal being put forward by Transparency International Zambia president Lee Habasonda not to allow any candidate who has been found to be corrupt to contest any election deserves the support of all.

Voting in the election of public officials is the most visible and common form of participation in modern democracies, and also the most fundamental. The ability to conduct free and fair elections is at the core of what it means to call a society democratic. And elections provide a peaceful and fair method by which the citizens of a democracy can select their leaders and have a meaningful role in determining their own destiny. Therefore, fraud or corruption should not be allowed, in any form, anywhere near our elections because it hinders our ability to freely choose our representatives.

It is not really important which candidate or political party wins or prevails in an election. The important thing is that the winners should be the best of us, in the moral, civic, political and integrity sense, regardless of their political affiliations. The future of our country and our people will depend on the integrity of the personalities we elect to our representative bodies.

Those who seek to win elections by fraudulent or corrupt means can never be able to provide the honest leadership we seek. And as Habasonda aptly puts it, "the danger is a corrupt election breeds leaders that corrupt society consequently undermining the whole idea of development and the social wellbeing of our people."
We have leaders who have been found wanting by our courts of law and have had their election nullified for fraud or corruption allowed to recontest the same seats they had been made to vacate.
We have political parties that don't see electoral fraud or corruption as a serious legal or moral issue. And as such, they have no problems fielding candidates who have been found to be corrupt or fraudulent in their politics and election campaigns. Is it because such political parties are themselves corrupt? Or is it because corruption is not an issue that troubles them in any way?
For instance, the UPND adopted Misheck Mutelo, a former MMD candidate who was found to be corrupt or fraudulent in his election campaigns, to be their candidate in the recent Lukulu West parliamentary by-elections. And they are now said to be seeking the candidature of Dora Siliya and Maxwell Mwale for Petauke Central and Malambo respectively. Dora and Maxwell had their election results nullified for engaging in electoral fraud or corruption as parliamentary candidates of the MMD. UPND sees completely nothing wrong with their conduct. Why?
It is not surprising because UPND also lost a seat in Mulobezi for similar reasons - election frauds or corruption. This is also a political party that is defending the corruption of Rupiah Banda and his league which not very long ago they used to expose and denounce. It is therefore not surprising that such things, such evils don't bother them. Corruption doesn't seem to be an issue for them.
It is clear that if the issue of election fraud or corruption is left totally to the political parties to decide, it will continue to be the order of the day and will eventually end up totally undermining public confidence in our electoral processes. We will continue to have election results that do not truly reflect the wishes of the people but of those who are most able to corrupt the electorate.
It is therefore important that we turn to the law to stop the corrupt and fraudsters from be our representatives. We cannot continue to rely on politicians who consistently refuse to see aught that is lofty, and fix their eyes with solemn intentness only on that which is vile and debasing. There is filth in our electoral processes, and it must be scrapped.
There are grave evils in our electoral processes and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be relentless attack upon evil, corrupt politicians who win elections fraudulently or through bribery and other abuses.
Every politician who betrays public trust by engaging in electoral malpractices deserves no immunity or sympathy. Such a politician, when known through court processes, deserves no second chance. They should be disqualified from contesting any elections in this country for a very long time. There should be a resolute effort to hound every such politician out of the public position they have disgraced and stop them from seeking another chance of occupying the same public offices they have betrayed. There should be no rest in the endless war against electoral corruption. But, of course, that war must be conducted with sanity as well as with resolution.
We as voters should also take responsibility and ensure that those who engage in election fraud or corruption do not get our support and votes because bribery and other electoral irregularities are a violation of our rights as voters. We should use our votes for the good of Zambia, as opposed to the good of a particular political party or individual by voting for candidates who have proved themselves accountable to God and to the electorate. We should also vote only for those candidates who have demonstrated courage in defending truth and justice for all and who are completely honest in fulfilling public and private responsibilities.
Free, fair and constructive elections will become a reality in our homeland when our politicians and ourselves as voters take our responsibilities seriously. Let us use our votes in every election to make sure that the right person is elected; let's vote according to our consciences, in accordance with the highest human values without allowing ourselves to be swayed by bribery, corruption or fraud.
And the starting point in all this is not to vote for candidates who have been found to be corrupt and fraudulent in their election campaigns. If we do this as voters, the politicians will know we mean business and we detest electoral fraud and corruption and they will think twice before fielding candidates who are known or have been found to be corrupt or to be fraudsters when it comes to elections.
The courts, so far, have generally done very well in trying to uphold high electoral standards by nullifying elections where the winning candidates have engaged in corruption, fraud and other malpractices. They have demonstrated the spirit to near zero tolerance for corruption. It is up to us as voters to now give meaning and purpose to these judgments from our courts of law by not supporting, in any way, those who have been found to be wanting when they seek to be elected in the by-elections caused by their own corruption.

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