Claims by Commerce Deputy Minister Miles Sampa that so far only K17 billion has been spent on by-elections since the PF came into government are false, Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) spokesperson Antonio Mwanza has said.
Mr Mwanza argued that if a minimum cost of one by election was estimated at K5 billion, how was it possible for the country to have spent only K17 billion on more than ten by-elections that have so far been induced.
“A minimum of K5 billion is spent just to conduct one by election. This is according to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), the constitutional body that is mandated by law to conduct elections,” he said.
So far the ECZ has conducted by elections in Chongwe, Muchinga, Chama, Msanzala, Livingstone, Katombora, Mpongwe and Mufumbwe. Other constituencies are Lukulu West, Kapiri Mposhi while Feira residents were voting yesterday.
Mr Mwanza said that several by elections have been staged adding that the estimated K5 billion required was actually more as there are other hidden costs to cater for presidential travels, security and other related expenditure.
“The by elections in Feira is expected to gobble not less than K7.7 billion and we all know that the Lukulu West and Kapiri Mposhi by elections gobbled a whopping K11Billion.” He said.
“Mr Sampa and his government should understand that the contingency allocation in the budget is not for ‘Sangwapo’ but meant to go to needy areas that will address the immediate needs of the people,” he said.
Mr Mwanza said such politically induced by elections were not putting food on the table for the suffering masses adding that any overrun in expenditure was clearly outside the budget.
Mr Sampa said that government had so far spent K17 billion on by-elections and that the funding was coming from the contingency line in the 2013 national budget after the budgeted K5 billion was exhausted.
Mr Sampa disclosed this expenditure during the Lusaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry breakfast meeting on Wednesday.
“I will tell you when you make a budget in your companies you put in what you call contingencies for any eventualities since we could not predict how many by-elections there will be. We put K5 billion and we have a line in the budget called contingency where we had put K5 billion for any unforeseen circumstances,” Mr Sampa said.
Mr Sampa was further reported to have said the by-elections were being financed under the contingency line in the budget and that there was no money being spent off the budget.