GEARS Initiative Zambia has noted with concern the continued distribution of branded and unbranded mealie-meal bags to people of Chilubi Island and Kalomo Districts by Disaster Management Mitigation Unit hosted by the Office of the Vice-President ahead of the parliamentary and local government by-elections in these two districts.
The Organisation says it is also in receipt of reports from Chilubi Island that some mealie-meal bags branded Superior Milling Company have found their way in the District and are being distributed to the locals ahead of the by-election.
GEARS Initiative Zambia Executive Director McDonald Chipenzi says unless his information is not right, Superior Milling Company is said to have been taken over and is now under the management of the Industrial Development Corporation a government development agency.
Therefore, Mr Chipenzi wondered whether this mealie-meal from Superior milling is acquired freely or at a fee and further wondered how hunger has become so critical in Chilubi island since the nomination on 16th January 2020 to attract such truckloads of mealie-meal from DMMU and other sources if this act is just not a mere electoral bribery and corruption.
He said the activities of the DMMU, a government owned and managed institutions under the leadership of Chanda Kabwe, is a clear demonstration of electoral corruption, coerciveness, bribery, blackmail and general malpractices ahead of the parliamentary and local by-elections in these areas.
“DMMU is now using hunger as a tool trying very hard to aid the ruling party to win elections as observed in its past activities ahead of the by-elections in Roan, Sesheke, Kafue, Katuba, Kaoma and Bahati”, he said.
Mr Chipenzi said the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit and ZAMPOST are in breach of Regulation 15 of the Electoral Code of Conduct subsection 1(i) which guides that: A person (Institution) shall not abuse or attempt to abuse a position of power, privilege or influence for purpose of political purposes including any offer of a reward.
He said the Code further outlaws the offer of any inducement (distribution of mealie-meal in Chilubi Island), rewards or bribe to any person in consideration of such person to vote or discriminate any person in any other manner in connection with an election or political activities (conduct of ZAMPOST on its ferry.
Mr Chipenzi said the conduct of Zampost and DMMU, government owned institutions ahead of the Chilubi parliamentary by-election under the watch of the ECZ, Police, ACC, is undermining the principle of a free and fair election in these areas.
He has invited the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to invoke its powers and authority provided for under Regulation 11 which mandates it to reprimand these institutions for such a conduct which is in violation of the Code.
Mr Chipenzi has further called on the ECZ to apply regulation 3 that demands that it censures acts done by government and its organs which are aimed at jeopardizing elections or done in contravention of the code
He said the ECZ and its partner institutions like Police, ACC cannot just behave like they do not exist in these areas hosting by-elections and allow electoral malpractices to take place uncensored and unabated.