Elections officers sorting out election materials
File: Elections officers sorting out election materials

By Maka. C

In Zambia every time an elected official moves or dies, fresh elections are conducted. We all know Elections cost a lot of money which would, otherwise, be used in other developmental endeavours. We also know that Zambia does not have much money.

So, why do we accept this wastage on elections?I strongly feel that we should vote for a party not an individual. If an elected member moves on, the party can decide who will represent them in the vacant position because the party has already won that particular seat and the people have already spoken through the ballot.

Party members serving in a particular seat will be free to move around, but it will not be a big issue for the country. Even for the positions of the president and his vice when they die there should be no fresh elections because their positions have already been won by the ruling party.

Currently, MPs have taken their seats to be personal to holder, and hence the thinking that they can jump around and still recontest the same seat.All Elections should be to elect a preferred party to represent the people, and a particular candidate is simply standing as a representative of the party. Once elections are over, there will be more elections.

I am sure many Zambians will agree with me.

Loading...

48 COMMENTS

  1. This clause was proposed in the draft constitution under the NCC under MMD rule but UPND and PF blocked that draft from going ahead.We are now reaping the benefits.the constitution should be worked on piecemeal as the late George Kunda suggested but Zambians decided to listen to the empty tin that made the most noise.

    0

    0
  2. agreed!!!! added to this MPs should not be appointed as ministers. ministries should be headed by permanent secretaries appointed by the ruling party and ratified by parliament. and they should have no voting powers in parliament. then there will be true separation of powers between legislature and executive.

    0

    0
    • The problem of appointing ministers from outside parliament is tricky as well, to whom will these ministers be loyal? Is it the electorate or the appointing authority?. As of voting for a party I agree 100%.

      0

      0
    • Ministers appointed outside of parliament should rightly be loyal to the president. MPs on the other hand should be loyal to their constituents first. The minister’s job should be about delivery, NOT party politics. Ministers should have no vote in parliament since they are not MPs. Unfortunately, I remember that Sata was not keen on this idea. So watch out when the final constitutional draft comes out.

      0

      0
  3. Why not adopt the South African electoral system of proportional representation in parliament? Your suggestion is fairly similar to it. A party is allocated a number of seats depending on how much votes they acquire. But here is SA a President appoints to cabinet whoever he likes, according to his skills. Appointees are not inhibited by their political part’s internal politics. There are no HHs but mature Buthelezis in SA.

    0

    0
    • No mate the SA system’s shortcomings are showing up in the numerous service delivery protests in the country. People don’t have constituency representatives (MPs) so their anger at lack of delivery can’t be delivered to their MP( via a vote of no confidence or bye election )it is therefore expressed thru riots. At Presidential level too Its better to have a representative u have voted for than to have the party dictating you one. Unfortunately when u opt for Democracy u have to accept its costs: bye elections is one such cost

      0

      0
    • The Zambian system is such that MPs hero worship the President hoping to get ministerial positions and the ministers boot-lick the president in order to keep their positions. There is no loyalty to the electorate so please stop raising the issues of loyalty here.

      0

      0
  4. On the contrary we should vote for an individual who will most likely help bring development. And the individual should be free to move from one party to another without relinquishing his/her parliamentary seat.

    0

    0
    • This will simply legalise the same political prostitution that allows for the recycling of the same failures we have had since Kaunda days. Zambia needs a complete overhaul of our “thinking” politically. All our political parties just “make empty promises” to the electorate. This serves the incumbent better because they have Govt resources at their desposal. It is only when the people are tired of a party that an opportunity arises. The one who shouts and attacks his opponents the most, tends to have an advantage but really it should be about idiologies and policies that each party can put forward. Educating the electorate to look at this more than the “loudest” is the challenge we have. Meanwhile, considering the current, I have to agree that a constituency should remain with the…

      0

      0
    • This is what they have in Malawi. They do not like it either. The big problem is that our MPs are always chasing ministerial positions. Take that out, and the political prostitution will reduce or even cease completely.

      0

      0
    • To some extent by elections provide cheaques and balances to goverment they provide a platform for people to air out their displeasures with govt by not voting for their candidate. from my observations the only time a consituency sees some development of some sort is when their is an election the constiuency is not flooded with promises from govt instead action is delivered instantly as the people demand. goverment shifts attention to wining the election by full filling the promises it made prior to general elections. imagine 5 YEARS without such checks

      0

      0
  5. Mwaka. C, a good suggestion though you forgot about independent candidates with no political party but very popular in their constituency – often independent candidates are not liked by either party so they go it alone and win the election. Your suggestion would mean doing away with independent candidates which I think is an infringement on the right of an individual to participate in the elections if people like and want him or her to represent them in parliament as opposed to standing on a political party that he/she does not like.

    0

    0
    • Bwalya
      Very good observation but I think it wouldnt have to come to doing away with independent candidates. We have very few and they are less likely to cross the floor to join a political party. However in the event that they did cross the floor or pass on, the fact that they did not prepresent a political party at the point of their election can be a ligitimate call for a by-election.

      0

      0
  6. The idea in the article is not how things should be, people within the party can be killing themselves. So the current situation is fine. People vote for individuals and not the party.

    0

    0
    • Yes, but no. The current system needs tweaking, to avoid by-elections. For example, as has been said already, rather than work from implied laws, we should state in the Laws of Zambia that sponsoring political parties will not suspend or dismiss their member of parliament for accepting appointment to be part of the government. In this way, the ruling party will not cause harm to the opposition political party whose MP has joined government by tempting them to leave their party. Also it should be considered economic sabotage to cause a by-election simply because one has joined government, considering the colossal amount involved on top of man hours that could go towards economic development of the nation.

      0

      0
  7. It’s a good high-level suggestion that is scant on many important considerations:
    i). Once a party is voted for, would it then be up-to that party to decide which cadres it deploys to parliament?
    ii). Once deployed, would the party reserve the right to withdraw that deployment at any stage in the 5 years between elections?
    iii). What about independent candidates? What happens if the independent candidate decides to resign from parliament – would the resigning independent candidate reserve the right to “appoint” his/her replacement to parliament?

    Overall, these resignations from parliament suggest their is little or no understanding of the primary role of an MP …and no, it is not to “bring development” [not directly] to constituencies. Rather, it is to enact legislation in…

    0

    0
  8. The draft constitution has all the clauses bloggers are discussing but is the current government PF and Serpent Cobra Ukwa Sata CNP ready to adopt them as law? Time will tell as the constitution is still in 90 days.

    0

    0
  9. If we want to get rid of unnecessary by elections, i would suggest that probably each time there are general elections, when the results are announced, the one with the highest votes becomes an MP. Should he/she die or resign, let the one who came out second in the last elections take over as the new MP.
    If he/she is not available then they can pick on the third candidate. Only when these candidates are unavailable can we have a by-election. This will definitely stop this unnecessary switching of these MPs from one party to another.

    0

    0
  10. The law should be changed so that anyone who resigns for no reasons other than deciding to join the ruling party must contribute 2 billion kachwa for the administration of the of the new election.Enough is enough! these re elections are going to take our economy to the tolilet.There are better things that the money being wasted the UKWA led re elections could be used for.

    0

    0
    • your surgestion is good as well except the government will simply pay the amount on behalf of the poached candident. still a west of our money. the best solution I see is that of ministers being appointed from outside parliament and parliamentaly seats belonging to the party that worn it at the last general elections.

      0

      0
  11. This issue is simple, let’s amend the electoral act, all MPs should be allowed to switch parties and resign their post but they should be barred from re contesting in the same constituency for 10yrs ..then we will see how many will fancy crossing the floor..

    Let tte rulling parties learn to sell their policies and bills in parliament to the opposition without causing bye elections..its so rachet…

    0

    0
    • The problem with total ‘barring’ or ‘banning’ is that you would penalise good people who want to resign on principle because their party has gone against the ideals they stood for. There has been good men and women who resigned on principle, especially under FTJ (Akashambatwa; Mungo’mba; Mulemba; Wina (Arthur), just to name a few).

      The best solution is to bar them from contesting on the ruling party ticket – because they resign to join the ruling party for more money. That way people could only resign on truly on principle. And they resign because they are kicked out of their party, they can stand as an independent.

      0

      0
  12. Country men and women
    The most effective solution is to stand in elections under oath. Once one declares that he/she will stand, they have promised the country that they will stand for the people until their period is over. Breaking oath will see one in the court of law. They can be charged a colossal sum of money and be bared from standing for a number of years. It will make people think twice and be serious with decisions to resign. Also, internal party political differences should not be an automatic end to being MP. Resigning from being an MP will mean one cannot stand again for the same seat. Expulsion from a party will mean one becomes an independent MP.

    0

    0
  13. I ve doubts that we ve a crop of leader currently who want to develop Zambia. Any leader who wants development in Zambia shud not advocate for by elections and RB avoided that making sure the case of expelled rebels did not materialise. It is not the kind we ve now

    0

    0
  14. I`am impressed with the level of discussion on this site, this article in particular, my question….in as much as we have pointed out suggestions to solve the “floor crossing ” or circus backflips by MP`s how do we make these changes to our constitution now? There is a serious drain on public finances to conduct & manage these by-elections and these funds could be directed towards buying ARV`s, digging pit laterines or even digging boreholes in villages. Do we need a refferendum or what?

    0

    0
  15. No 15 I’m afraid to point out that this shall not come to pass till the current crop of politicians phase out, 2021 Going forward maybe?

    0

    0
    • there will never be a phase out, cause what we are seing new young chaps learning the same old westfull behavier once voted in. we just have to make provisions in our laws to either deter or prohibit the habits.

      0

      0
  16. Knowing some tribes, they will kill each other after agreeing you will be the next MP. Democracy is not cheap. When you ask for rains you should also accept the mud that come with it.

    0

    0
    • we accept the cost of democracy but we dont have to be foolish in our spending in the name of “cost of democrasy”. there are many democracies world over, that dont have the many by-elections we are seing in our country. we are simply being westfull.

      0

      0
  17. I am not very sure that voting for the party instead of a person will be a very good system. It is very important that the Member of Parliament is accountable first to the people who put him/her into power and speak for them when in Parliament. The problem we have right now is that our elected members of Parliament are more interested in their own well being rather than the good of the country. I would like to suggest that there is a mechanism put in place which stops MPs who voluntarily resign from their Parties on which they stood for election into Parliament not to be allowed to stand again for elections in that electral period but to wait for the next general elections. I believe this will stop them from jumping from one Party to another and wasting the country’s resources.

    0

    0
    • Zambian lady, accountability does not only apply to individuals but to political parties as well. Normaly what we see in zambian election debats is that the people campain and say, Vote such and such party and you will see development. a few individuals may say I will bring development but we know those are lies cause only cabinet deside what development, for which area. My thought is that, first there is a party with a vission. based on this vission they elect a leader to drive their vision. anyone therefore wishing to stand on this parties ticket, in principle shares the party vision. so when they campain, it is expected that they will be selling the same vission. it makes sence for the party to keep their parliament seat in the event of dearth/resignation,and have an o/side Cabinet.

      0

      0
  18. Sorry the present system is the best. Viva UPND and PF for having rejected that MMD suggestion. We don’t want a leader to be imposed on us. That is a very bad system as you may end up being ruled by a frog. Let leaders who waste money on unnecessary by- elections push themselves out of power. Because the more money they waste on by-elections the less money they have to deliver their campaign promises.

    0

    0
  19. My suggestions (a slight variation from others already outlined by earlier posters):
    1. Each party taking part in elections has a hierarchy of 3 preferred MP candidates for each constituency. If the incumbent resigns the one who was next in line takes over. OR
    2. When an incumbent MP reigns or dies, the one who got the next highest in the elections takes over. Unfortunately this particular suggestion is unfair on the people if they voted on party lines as opposed to the individual. One thing we must insist on is if an MP resigns by his own choosing he/she MUST NOT be allowed to stand on for that same seat for a minumum of 3 years. The kind of nonsense we have going on right now is truly a mockery.

    0

    0
  20. Another suggestion is this: if an MP dies say 6 months or less BEFORE a General Election then that seat should remain vacant until the General Elections are held. Problem with this one is use do not have a fixed date for when exactly our elections are held. For example all we know is the next GEs are in 2016 but no specific date. If i am not mistaken i remember we had a bye-election for some MP who died in some constituency less than three months before the 2011 Elections. So perhaps we need to constitutionalise the General Elections date as for starters!

    0

    0
  21. Having read and contributed to some of the debate, I have to say that the best way to avoid or minimise the costly and unnecessary by-election due to defections, is simply to include in the constitution a clause that excludes an MP who resigns as MP, in order to join the ruling party, shall not be allowed to stand for re-election as an MP during the life of that Paliament. That will significantly detract the belly politics practionners and expose them when they attempt defections towards the end of each parliament.

    0

    0
  22. Being loyal to the party and not the electorate is what would result from such a system. Party Secretary Generals would become more important than the Zambian.I’d gofor punitive measures against an MP who deliberately causes bye elections on flimsygrounds eg loss of benefits and/or being barred from standing again in near future or being sent in diplomatic missions

    0

    0
  23. This is very shallow thinking and it should never be allowed.You cannot be choosing MP’s like members of a board in a family business because this will defeat the whole purpose of multi-party politics. What this guy is advocating is a recipe for a family dictatorship, the party presidents will use their muscles to make sure their relatives and sons are appointed into vacant seats and once this happens, say goodbye to democracy! Democracy is not cheap and the people knew about this when Zambia chose multi-party politics. Members of parliament should be answerable to the people who chose them to represent them not to party presidents! This is the problem Zambian MP’s are facing and which people should be talking about and correct it so that MP’s can be free from party interests.

    0

    0
  24. INTRESTING & MATURE BLOGGING, in Ghana an MP steping down in sekelwa style is not allowed to stand again,lets adopt that and may be MPs out of cabinate the PS being ministers sounds proffessional and less congested a SYSTEM, MP be objective represent your electorates in a meaninful way IN PARLEY maybe Govt may not snatch MP to make numbers they need to work easily.

    0

    0
  25. Mr Maka C. a seat cannot belong to a party as it is true that the majority of voters who would have voted in the MP would not necessarilly have been members of the winning party and therefore it would not be right for that party to impose an MP. It would be a very bad constitution which would allow such a situation.

    Allow a defecting MP to remain representing the constituents as an independent til the end of parliament like in the UK system.

    0

    0
  26. Thanks Maka C

    I think Maka is not saying his suggestions are the best. I thank Maka for stimulating our minds into action. We need to commend Maka for his subject t because we can all contribute on this challenging issue.

    Now all Zambians, Please continue debating. This topic needs to be updated so that more people can think through it. It looks simple but it is talking about how we are wasting the merger resources we have.

    If we can tell the Editor to keep this topic open for more people to put their thoughts.

    Please contribute seriously, and put good thoughts to your comments. Someone is seriously following this up.

    My Regards to all.

    0

    0
  27. In other words, this person is suggesting that elected officials should be loyal to the party and not to the electorates. What a skewed type of democracy. You are also suggesting individuals should sacrifice their principles and integrity and dance to the whims of their party. You are also suggesting a party could field any numbskull and they should be elected because their party is great. Are you also suggesting no one should stand as an Independent or how do you plan to resolve an independent scenario?

    What do you mean elected member ’moves on’ or ’free to move around’ or ’ jump around’? We all know they only ‘move on’ or ‘move around’ or ‘jump around’ in one direction only – to the ruling party (for greener pastures, aka politics of the stomach).

    0

    0
  28. So the solution to close the loophole by stopping any MP resigning from contesting their seat (until the next general elections) or even simply banning them from re-contesting the seat on the ruling party’s ticket (they can stand as an Independent MP or even another opposition party platform)… problem solved.

    In Australia it’s only the Prime Minister who is chosen from among elected MPs from a party which has the majority in the House of Representatives. But as a far as I know individual representatives seats are subject to by-elections. That is a much better democratic way that voting for a party at individual MP level – you are simply throwing away individual accountability here.

    0

    0
  29. May I also add that we need solutions that introduce individual integrity and principles in Zambia? We need people who see politics as a calling to serve the people and not to enrich themselves.

    The best way to bring about these changes is not really through some ‘cooked’ by-elections but laws that will bring transparency and accountability.
    1. Start by curbing the powers of the President
    2. Make ACC is a truly independent organisation with ‘teeth’
    3. Reduce the salaries and packages of these MPs and politicians in general so their motivation is not money
    4. Educate the electorates so they can stop listening to lies and stop being easily bribed
    5. Make ECZ a truly independent organisation with ‘teeth’

    Problem solved!

    0

    0
  30. I do not agree with this article. The people chosee a person as their representative in parliament or state house and not the party. This may be workable in countries where parties have their own direction regardless of who is the leader. The leader follows the vision of the party and not vice verca as is our case. Secondly, I think the person who causes a bye election should be barred by the constitution form ng for any public office for the next 10 years and he should also be barred from holding any appointed public office in any capacity.
    We should also abolish MPs who are appointed by the president as this is being misused. It was meant to allow the president to appoint well qualified people who are not MPs to ministerial positions. Now it is just political appoitments.

    0

    0
    • Wise sentiments sir. These people are now taking us for granted after voting them into power. Any sane person cannot support these maneuvers to weaken the opposition. How many unnecessary bye-elections have taken place under PF?

      0

      0
  31. MPs who resign from one party to another should not be allowed to re-contest theirs seats. People were saying development, now is this the development our people want? Its not about the numbers, but development matters. Deliver and electorates will be on your side. MMD was kicked out of power because of the failure to listen and deliver development to the nation. Our leaders, listen to our cries for development.

    0

    0

Comments are closed.