Dangerous cynicism

Deputy Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Miles Sampa must apologize to the Zambian people for his totally misleading and cynical statement justifying by-elections.

His arithmetic, logic and facts are totally wrong.

The suggestion that only K17billion has been used for by elections is an assault on the collective  intelligence of the Zambian people as each election costs not less than K5billion.

He was totally wrong to suggest that the numerous by-elections were budgeted for. They were not. The budget envisaged a few by elections hence the provision of K5billion. Anything above this figure is an overrun which is not budgeted for.

That is why it  was equally preposterous for Mr. Sampa to suggest that  K33 billion was still left from the contingency line for  by-elections. This is totally false because contingency takes account of all other Government overruns for example Diplomats recalled prematurely must be paid while Government tries to figure out their next assignments.

The Patriotic Front as a Party planned for these corrupt by-elections and hoped to use the advantage of incumbency to loot the treasury to change the complexion of the National Assembly to its advantage. They were aware that the 66 election petitions they lodged would result in by-elections and should have factored them in the budget.

The fact that they did not only goes to show the party realized that the cost of 66 by elections was astronomical and an affront to good governance.

The figures first

A few weeks ago ECZ Director Priscilla Isaacs announced that the recent Lukulu West and Kapiri constituency by-elections cost the Commission K 11 billion; this is exclusive of other costs including logistics by the various arms of Government.

The Feira by-election was expected to cost K 7.7 billion. This, again exclusive of other costs including allowances, travel costs and other perquisites for Ministers and other officers who  travelled in readiness for the exercise.

Therefore to suggest that the total bill of all by-elections held so far is under K17billion is unrealistic and totally oblivious of the immense costs involved in organizing an election.

The logic

The suggestions that by-elections are inevitable and constitutional belie the moral question. The circumstances calling for by-elections are well articulated by law. These include the death of an incumbent. It does not include the asinine suggestion that development is synonymous with party affiliation of an MP.

It is certainly not true that constituency development is dependent on the party affiliation of an MP because such a distorted image completely takes away from the principle of multi party democracy.

Above all the resources the nation applies do not belong to the ruling party, they belong to the nation and must be used as provided for in the yellow book, and any divergence is an abrogation of the budgetary provision.

The facts

Vice President Guy Scott, for all his numerous faults, is quite candid and refreshingly honest when he states that the PF needs numbers in the house in order to pass bills.

Mr. Sampa must learn from Dr.Scott. Poaching of MPs has nothing to do with elaborate development theories.

It is an exercise of beefing numbers in the house, which is why an incentive of ministerial office is attached.

Mr. Sampa must know that PF backbenchers are in total revolt seeing that the President is offering cushy jobs to opposition defectors.

Sadly Mr. Sampa’s statement only confirms what we suspected of him.