The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) says it welcomes the constitution of a Commission of Inquiry into the pre and post-2016 General Elections and the voting patterns in the country.
YALI Governance Advisor Isaac Mwanza said his organization is optimistic that the members selected to sit onto the Commission will do a thorough job as they look into the ever increasing causes of political violence during elections in Zambia.
Mr Mwanza noted that the people being appointed have the requisite experience to probe such cases though their findings have never been revealed to the public.
He urged President Lungu to ensure that the findings are publicised as opposed to receiving reports without instituting recommended remedial actions.
“We have noted that the some of the people being reappointed on this commission were the same who have sat on previous Commissions and have requisite experience to conduct a probe of such a nature although the findings of these Commissions are never revealed to the public who finance them.
“To date, we have findings of the Barotseland Commission of Inquiry, Judicial and Law Reform Commission and many other commissions set up by Patriotic Front leaders since they assumed power in 2011 which have gathered dust, with no remedial actions on recommendations. President Lungu does not want to go down in history as another leader who found these reports and instituted his own that went to waste. We thus encourage action from President Lungu,” he said.
He said the Commission should not be selective by targeting provinces which voted for opposition.
“Our expectations as YALI are that the Commission will not be seen to be selectively targeting provinces which voted for the opposition political parties where violence was also rife but must do a thorough countrywide inquiry to include hotspots like Lusaka and Copperbelt where supporters and sympathizers of the ruling Patriotic Front went on rampage to commit atrocious acts against persons that were seen to be supporting the opposition and where the conduct of the Zambia Police Force around the country also contributed to increased tension and violence.
“We also don’t believe that looking at the magnitude of the issues to be covered by the Commission and how the scope of the last election that it will be possible for the Commission to do a thorough job within 4 months and gather evidence that will make them arrive at appropriate conclusion,” he said.
He however expressed concern at the timing of the the Inquiry due to the economic challenges being faced in the country.
“However, we are alive to the fact that Zambia is facing serious economic challenges and prudence demands that the timing for the Commission has therefore reduced but we hope this won’t compromise the collecting of essential evidence.
“Finally, as we ask government to make public the estimates of funds to be spent on this Commission, we ask Zambians who abhor political violence to support the move by the President to look into the real causes of political tension which lead people to commit violent acts against each other during Zambian elections,” he said.
He added “YALI has been a stronger campaigner against political violence since 2011 and covered ten provinces of Zambia in the 2016 general elections. While we came into contact with all political parties which made us understand the dynamics of political violence which happened in 2016 elections, we shall leave it to these experts who have been picked by President Lungu to come up with a report which we shall be interested to analyse thereafter.”