Chairperson for the Commission of Inquiry appointed to inquire into voting patterns and electoral violence that characterised the August 11, 2016 general elections has called on all civil society and citizens to support the process for the betterment of the country.
Commission Chairperson, Justice Munalula Lisimba stressed that contrary to assertions by some sections of society that the setting up of the Commission of Inquiry was a waste of resources,the appointment of the Commission of inquiry was necessary.
Justice Lisimba stated that through the commission of inquiry the victims of political violence would be provided an opportunity to voice their plight without any discrimination.
He affirmed that the commission remains committed to having as many hearings as possible, throughout the country so as to give an opportunity to as many Zambians as possible to have their voices heard on the matter.
The commission of inquiry chairperson thus called on civil society organisations to do their part in encouraging people to appear before the commission and testify.
According to a statement made available to ZANIS in Lusaka yesterday, Justice Lisimba was speaking during a meeting with civil society organisations on aimed at appraising them on the Commission’s mandate and terms of reference ahead of the commencement of the Commission’s public hearings on Monday next week.
“It is my conviction that the appointment of this Commission provides an opportunity to every Zambian to be heard on this new and negative phenomenon of violence in our democratic political dispensation in Zambia. It is our firm belief that by freely allowing people to speak out on what they saw or experienced, they will be healed.
“I hasten to state that the success of the work of this Commission of Inquiry, like others before, is solely dependent on people coming forward to speak out. If people do not to come forward, I am afraid that those who were hurt because of electoral violence will continue suffering in silence. This is an opportunity that Zambians cannot afford to miss,” he said.
The Commission chairperson also allayed fears raised by some the stakeholders in the meeting that would-be petitioners would be in danger at the hands of some unscrupulous people who may target them if they felt that the testimony to the Commission implicates them in wrongdoing.
He disclosed that the police command has assured the Commission that it will protect those who will make submissions to the Commission of Inquiry adding that petitioners will be free to use methods of submission that they will be most comfortable with.
“Those with video recorded evidence on electoral violence will be free to present such to the Commission of Inquiry.
“Submissions will be received on first come first served basis and Institutions, such as civil society organisations, are free and are encouraged to make institutional submissions on behalf of their constituents,” he said.
Justice Lisimba further reiterated that the Commission was non-partisan and it was not a consortium of representatives of political parties and it will conduct its inquiry in an impartial manner.
He has since encouraged stakeholders to attach and sponsor any number of their members to monitor the sittings.
President Edgar Lungu, appointed the Commission of Inquiry on Voting Patterns and Electoral Violence on 21st October, 2016.
The Commission was consequently sworn-in on 28th October, 2016 by the Honourable Lady Justice Ireen Mambilima, Chief Justice of the Republic of Zambia.
The mandate of the Commission is to inquire into the voting patterns in the general elections conducted from 2006 to 2016 and the electoral violence that characterised the 2016 general elections, in order to come up with recommendations that will prevent the occurrence of violence in future elections and ensure that voting outcomes are reflective of the people’s free will.
The Commission will tomorrow 16th December, 2016 meet representatives of political parties to appraise them on its mandate and terms of reference ahead of its first sittings next week on Monday, 19th, Tuesday, 20th and Wednesday 21st December, 2016 at Nakatindi hall at the Civic Centre in Lusaka.