We may indeed disagree with Fr. Frank Bwalya on many points, but we at least agree on the need for Government to be called to account for its social responsibility to the public, namely that public resources should be applied to maximize common good.
Our position on by elections has been consistent, namely that the 60 plus election petitions lodged by the ruling Patriotic Front and the subsequent by elections are a very cynical corrupt abuse of power.
We have gone further to state that such abuse of incumbency has no precedence in any democracy in the world.
We have researched the topic and indeed nowhere else in contemporary democracy including the commonwealth has a ruling party so cynically set out to use public funds in order to alter the complexion of Parliament to its favour.
We have never been challenged in this conclusion.
We can therefore understand the frustration Fr. Bwalya is experiencing when he describes by election as “stupid” and a reckless waste of resources.
On our part we have called for a moratorium on by elections, but our appeal has been met with deafening silence.
If anything the momentum towards by elections has increased as more opposition members of Parliament have succumbed to the lure of Deputy Ministerial positions in the ruling party.
At the rate we are going this country still has close to 40 by elections to be held. These will be held regardless of our economic circumstances and indeed regardless of their morality in view of the pressing needs for resources to ameliorate pitiful situations of want in social delivery.
It is for this reason that we have been very concerned by the ongoing constitution making process which has already consumed billions of Kwacha to arrive at the same resolutions and recommendations that previous constitution making initiatives have made.
We feel that this was an absolute waste of time and resources because whatever recommendations and resolutions were made by the national convention are now again subject to review by the technical committee, which may or may not take them into account. This is counter productive and certainly counter intuitive. This what we feared most.
Without a legal frame work the national convention held at great cost has no significant place in the overall constitution making process. Previous initiatives had clear roles assigned to the various groups involved in the process.
This is not all; the entire document from the technical committee will be presented to the President or indeed Presidency. At this stage what will happen is anybody’s guess.
This should not be the case; there must be certainty to any process that consumes such vast public resources.
The lack of uncertainty is a recipe for mistrust.
As we have said before the lack of uncertainty is also behind the waste we now see in the proliferation of by-elections. Ordinarily a General election represents the start and end of a political cycle. It is a balance sheet, whose result should be respected.
This is not the case and hence the shenanigans passing for free and fair elections. It is not just the resources that are being wasted but indeed the moral fiber and integrity of such important pillars of governance as the Electoral Commission of Zambia are coming under question.
The ruling party has done everything possible including abrogating the electoral code in order to win these by election, at all costs and in the process we have lost three lives in totally unnecessary circumstances.
Since we agree on the issue of by elections we hope Fr,. Bwalya can help in the crusade for a moratorium.