Monday, December 30, 2013

Scott defends K4m budget for by-elections
By Abel Mboozi
Thu 07 Nov. 2013, 14:01 CAT

VICE-President Dr Guy Scott on Wednesday defended the K4 million allocated for by-elections in next year's budget saying the figure cannot be accurately estimated.

And Parliament approved the K107 million allocated to the Electoral Commission of Zambia with the opposition bench urging government to let the commission operate independently.

Responding to concerns by mostly opposition members of parliament who argued that the K4 million provided for by-elections was not adequate, Vice-President Scott said the figure was all right.

He told Parliament that ECZ was cardinal in conducting credible elections and as such the government had this time around increased the commission's budget allocation.

Vice-President said it was difficult for the government to accurately estimate the cost of by-elections.

"The compliant from honourable Muntanga about money for by-elections, Mr Speaker, money for by-elections cannot be accurately estimated," he said.
Vice-President Scott noted that most by-elections that had fallen had been held and only two or so were remaining to be conducted.

On funds for the delimitation of constituency boundaries, Vice-President Scott said it had been moved into a much larger vote on the constitutional and referendum processes.

"In an event that the referendum doesn't come over this year, then the moneys will be available for a quicker and accurate delimitation and if it has to come over, there has to be supplementary budget," he said.

He noted that the government had doubled this year's budget to ECZ and as such complaints mostly by the opposition bench were out of place.

And the House approved the K107 million budget for ECZ next year with opposition members of parliament arguing that the money was not enough for the commission.

Chipata Central MMD member of parliament Mtolo Phiri said ECZ was supposed to enforce the electoral Act and deliverer democratic governance; so it required adequate funding.

Phiri urged the government to stop interfering with operations of ECZ by threatening staff at the commission with dismissals.

Solwezi central MMD member of parliament Lucky Mulusa said ECZ needed to find another level of relevance than its current state.

Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Garry Nkombo said the money allocated to ECZ was not adequate for it to undertake ventures like the continuous voter registration exercise.

He accused the PF of interfering with the public broadcaster which he said blacked-out the opposition.

Kalomo UPND member of parliament Request Muntanga said ECZ should be allowed to operate without interference by especially those in the government.

He said each time ECZ told the government a correct thing; ministers accused the institution of being biased towards the opposition, which was not correct.

Muntanga argued that the K4 million provided for by-elections was not adequate taking into account the fact that over K100 million had already been spent on by-elections.

"There are about 16 or so pending electoral petitions and so the K4 million is not enough for such an exercise," said Muntanga.

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