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Friday, August 7, 2020

Explain Why Spending Money on Deliberately Caused Bye Elections Is A Higher Priority To PF-Musokotwane

Headlines Explain Why Spending Money on Deliberately Caused Bye Elections Is A Higher...

UPND Economics and Finance Committee Chairperson Situmbeko Musokotwane has challenged the PF to explain why spending money on by election is a higher priority for the Government than paying the salaries of district councilors and council Staff.

Dr Musokotwane has said that an interaction between UPND MPs and their Councilors on the causes of resignations, it has been established that the resignations are happening at the request of the Patriotic Front.

The Former Finance Minister said the District Commissioners and PF officials have been going round UPND strong holds to entice councilors to resign from their positions.

Dr Musokotwane said very recently, PF teams have been busy in the Western, Southern and North Western Provinces enticing councilors to resign with some having resigned meaning that more bye elections are on way.

Below is a full statement…

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Explain why spending Money on Deliberately Caused Bye Election is a Higher Priority for the Government than Paying the Salaries of District Councilors and Council Staff

Since the Patriotic Front (PF) come into office in 2011, Zambia has had an unprecedented number of bye elections, especially for local government councilors. Statistics indicate that on average, there has been a bye election in the country after every two months. The Western Province has been hit hardest with bye elections, followed by the North Western, Southern and Lusaka Provinces. There has never been any time in the history of the country when so many bye elections have been held.

According to the Zambian Constitution, if a vacancy arises in the office of a councilor a bye election must be held within three months to fill it. A few vacancies have arisen because of death of the incumbent. The vast majority of vacancies have however been caused by councilors who have resigned. Most of the councilors that have resigned are from the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

With most of the councilors resigning being UPND, the party has had to take interest in the matter. UPND Members of Parliament (MPs) have spoken to their councilors to know the reasons for the resignations. According to the information received, the resignations are happening at the behest of the party in government, the PF. District Commissioners and PF party officials have been going around UPND strong holds to entice councilors to resign from their positions. Very recently, PF teams have been busy in the Western, Southern and North Western Provinces enticing councilors to resign. Some have indeed resigned, meaning that more bye elections are on way. Some resigned but soon reversed their decisions while others have angrily rejected appeals to make them resign.

Councilors resign because of promises of rewards extended to them in exchange for resigning. Typically, there is a lump some cash offer to compensate the councilor for the loss of salary from that point up to the time when councils are dissolved ahead of the next general election. In addition, there is the promise to be employed in some of the public services like the Police or in the teaching service. The councilor targeted to resign will be told that there is no guaranteed future in politics because there is no assurance of being adopted to be a candidate or to be successful at all in the election. Instead, a job in the public service secures one’s future career wise.

In this era of high unemployment, the promise of a permanent job for a councilor can be very tempting. This is more so that the majority of councilors are young people many of whom would have completed their secondary schools within the last five years and thereafter had no opportunity for further training or being employed. Even with these tempting promises from the PF however, the majority of councilors have stood their ground and have rejected the offers. These are the unsung heroes of our democracy.

For the PF, the bye elections are an opportunity to try and make a point that they are gaining political popularity in the provinces where they miserably failed in the 2016 general elections. In 2016 PF failed to win any parliamentary seats in Western, Southern and North-Western provinces. In addition, they lost all or most of the rural constituencies in Lusaka, Copperbelt and the southern parts of Central Province. These are the areas the PF are now working hard to entice councilors to resign.

The PF are aware that their fortunes in the provinces where they did well in 2016 have declined sharply since then because of the harsh economic environment that has occurred all around the country. The urban areas, which were the PF strongholds, have not been spared from the economic meltdown. And, of course, PF knows very well that urban voters shift political alignments swiftly. PF can no longer with certainty depend on urban voters to be their strong supporters. This is why they are now trying hard to gain political mileage in the rural provinces that rejected them in 2016. The frequent bye elections in rural areas is a tool to further this goal.

For the local PF officials in the provinces prone to bye-elections, the electoral campaigns are a time for making money, eating good food every day and, of course, lots of drink. Such facilities are usually well funded by the PF. Therefore, local party officials have all the incentives to create bye elections because they benefit from them.

Once a bye election has been declared, PF moves in with lots of resources to entice the voters. With total disregard of the electoral laws and rules PF distributes money, food and drinks to voters in large quantities. During bye elections, there has also been unprecedented levels of political violence in which the opposition parties are often the victims. The Police rarely offer any protection and in certain instances, such as the Sesheke bye election, they actually attack innocent voters themselves. The Electoral Commission of Zambia has long given up on any attempt to reign in the PF. The combination of material gifts to poor rural voters and the deployment of intimidating state Police usually works to the great advantage of the ruling PF. The more bye elections they win through whatever means, the more the PF get convinced that their popularity is extending to the areas they lost in 2016.

Bye elections are costly. On average, the Electoral Commission of Zambia will spend about K2 million per ward bye election. This does not include the funds that the political parties spend for the purposes of campaigning. Yet the PF and their government find it fit to go around the country inciting poor councilors to resign from their positions to create bye-election that are costly.

Here is what is disturbing and puzzling about these bye elections. The dire financial state that Zambia finds herself in is now clear to everyone. Even before the corona virus (covid19) came on the scene, the country was already struggling. Many public projects like schools and roads have been abandoned in the middle of works due to lack of funds. Emoluments for some public sector employees can’t be paid. The Constituency Development Fund, a very useful resource for financing development projects in remote local areas has been released no more than three times since the PF came to power in 2011 even though the provisions for it have appeared each year in the national budget. But money for deliberately created bye elections is always available!

Lets now relate this to the district councils themselves where the councilors belong. The national budget has provisions for the central Treasury to provide “Equalisation Funds” to councils to finance local development projects like infrastructure. This funding is in months of arrears. Further, salaries of both local council staff and the councilors themselves have not been paid in the last five months because there has been no usual support from the central Treasury. But the government finds it desirable to create unnecessary bye elections, make sure there is money for them (bye elections) and also therefore make sure that there is NO money to pay salaries for councilors and council staff! Why are deliberately caused by elections considered a higher priority to paying the salaries of councilors and council staff?

The issue of the bye elections is one example out of many where lack of priorities in spending public funds is working to the disadvantage of the country. These unnecessary bye elections can be ended at the stroke of the pen by the government itself if it wished. This would go a long way in saving resources for the country which are needed for more serious priorities especially now when covid19 has added to the economic problems of the country.

It is no secret that most of Zambia’s activities to respond to the covid19 pandemic are funded by donors, most of whom are hit more than us by the same covid19. Despite their own woes, they have sacrificed their resources to assist us while our own money is being employed for trivial priorities like deliberately created and endless bye elections. Bye elections that encourage people to gather together contrary to the instructions from the same government as it fights covid19. Surely it is better to do the correct things before we are lectured by donors on how to use our money prudently.

UNITED PARTY FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (UPND)

Economics and Finance Committee

Situmbeko Musokotwane, Chairman

24 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a constitutional requirement chimbwi imwe. If we didn’t hold the elections, you will be first ones to complain that we are undemocratic. You act like infants. Grow up

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    • You fail to pay Council workers. You use the monies for people who are working for government for by-elections. I cant get sense in that.

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  2. Firstly, I don’t understand why we as a country have insisted on having by-elections in this day and age, there is no need for them and no point either.
    We can save money, time and even lives as a result of electoral violence if we did away with them. I proposed before that we need to simply have the party representing a constituency or ward undergo an intra party election to elect a successor, don’t involve ECZ and force people to line up to vote.
    We have this provision for when a President dies now, no by election but veep taking over, let’s twerk that to get rid of by elections.
    Secondly, the UPND needs to be serious if their councillors are selling out easily, in the midst of all these struggles, someone leaving in preference for money at the cost of change make them reflect on…

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  3. At the cost of change should make them reflect on how well they are running the party. It cannot be that PF is a better solution, no. But if their councillors are selling out so easily, they should see how well they have been doing.
    Additionally, when the councillors resign and a by election is held, why is the PF winning the elections? UPND needs to understand what they are doing wrong, it could be that the PF entices their councillors, but why do they win the by elections?
    Also, why is it that the resignations are only councillors and not MPs?

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  4. @Spiderly Existence, You could be underestimating the power of poverty and the extent of disregard for law and order during these bye elections. You may have to better acquaint yourself with the realities on the ground Zero during bye elections. Whereas it is true that UPND has not so won the Zambians hearts that a complete revolution is ripe, I think to characterise the situation as mainly ineptness of UPND is not right. Sure, there is much room for UPND to improve but, in a right thinking society, what Dr Musokotwane has raised above should cause widespread outrage in the citizens, with or without a well functioning opposition. Sadly, we need to look deep within ourselves as Zambians. Question is, are we able to?

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  5. It’s simple really if a cader has more power than police who is a councillor. They will just threaten with bad conditions not only offer cash for free. They resign because they are given two choices work with us or face consequences. It’s not easy to fight a battle outside.

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  6. UPND Economics and Finance Committee Chairperson Situmbeko Musokotwane has challenged the PF to explain why spending money on by election is a higher priority for the Government than paying the salaries of district councilors and council Staff.
    I thought salaries for district councilors should come from the coffers of the district council concerned.
    Next time there is a by election, please do not field any candidate. That way we will know UPND is serious about saving money.
    The latest trend shows that even UPND politicians have a price tag! How sad for a party which has been portraying an image of not being corrupt

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  7. Mwine munzi, how can one honestly win a fight if they choose to drop their guard? What you are asking of the opposition is not possible.

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  8. They are so quick to sponsor by-elections, but cant even pay the people conducting their by-elections. Council workers have become destitute, but these people are working for the government. What’s wrong with this picture?

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  9. MWINE MUNZI:
    just like your PF thugs you don’t know that there are very few District Councils in the Country that can realise enough revenue to pay its workers. You go about creating District Councils, you send officers they and fail to pay them. And then you turn around and pretend to say, they can raise revenue to pay their workers….nonsense. Or for you District Councils only mean Lusaka, Kitwe and Livingstone. Sometimes it’s better to keep your stinking mouth shut, when you know that it will only spark smelling. People are suffering for not getting paid after working for Government and you want to justify their unpaid?

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  10. From your language I can tell your mother was a waitress at Mwanamainda. Sorry was it at Kalipinde?

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  11. Lucky me, my mother is neither of those useless categories of yours. She is a woman of high calibre. But a fig tree, bears a fig tree. And from the way you speak l will be justified to say, “Mwana wa mbuzi anaonera amake unyera mkhola” Pumbwa wa munthu iwe….don’t try me.

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  12. Waitress compound language is coming out! Indeed your mother taught you well! Off to bed but I am sure you are still waiting for your mother to finish with Mr What the name before you can go and sleep.in the one roomed house. No wonder you hate the PF so much.

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  13. POLITICS IS A DIRTY GAME INDEED
    IF THE UPND HAD HALF A CHANCE THEY WOULD DO THE SAME AND MAYBE WORSE
    PUT UPND IN POWER AND YOU WOULD SEE NEPOTISM AND OTHER ISMS THAT ZAMBIA HAS NEVER WITNESSED BEFORE
    IF I HAD MY WISHES I WOULD BAN ALL POLITICAL PARTIES AND INSTALL A GOVERNMENT RUN BY TECHNOCRATS
    AND ALL POLITICIANS AND RUBBLE ROUSERS WOULD BE THROWN IN JAIL AND THE KEYS WOULD BE THROWN IN LAKE KARIBA
    AND THERE WOULD BE PEACE IN ZAMBIA
    BUT ALAS THE DEVIL WOULD BE VERY CROSS

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  14. Ba Mwine Munzi
    Lack of solid ground that’s why you resorted to cheap argument of attacking mothers. You’re undressing your mother cos she seems typical of you. You’re really a Pumbwa.

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  15. Ba Mwine Munzi
    Lack of solid ground that’s why you resorted to cheap argument of attacking mothers. You’re undressing your mother cos she seems typical of you. You’re really a Pumbwa.

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  16. These pf guys are too desperate to act in a reasonable manner.jst look at their behavoir. They use violence,they buy councilors, they eat snakes,they gas pipo.only desperate govt does such things. Mr musokotwane don’t think they can listen to yo advice. They can’t. Look at the evil bill 10. That shows u hw desperate pf is.wat they ar blind to is zat all their activities ar being recorded and they shall go in zambias history.

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  17. Ba fimo fimo check my original post and your reply to it. It looks like it is the norm in your party to assume that all those who hold different views are dull and should be insulted. Mwana wa galu iwe.

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  18. To be frank, our current leaders lack this priority ingredient.
    AND WHAT I HAVE OBSERVED SO FAR IS…
    why are we magnifying the strength of cadres which they dont even have.
    I THINK SHAME IS ON YOU ALL SECURITY WINGS.
    You have failed to defend and protect this country internally.

  19. Somehow, it appears bad leaders don’t seem to realise time to leave power by whatever means shall come and the country shall remain. I hv failed to understnd hw they get blind to this reality even amid abundant examples of bad leaders who have since gone. look at the mess in which Mugabe, mobutu, gadafi, santos, sani abacha etc. have left their families after power. the millions of dollars they accumulated in power don’t even save them. so then why cant a normal thinking person just act in the best interest of his country when given such a rare privilege of being the CEO of the country. it bothers me a lot. I fail to understand.

  20. Did you avail to the councils all those incentives you have mentioned (CDF and Equalization Fund) during your tenure, you failed Minister!

  21. UPND is a Political party that has policies that have come back to haunt them. You stay out of parliament most of the time and fail to support progressives laws such as doing away with by-elections and yet you continue to blame the Govt of the day for spending money on the by elections. Your MPs were voted to represent the constituencies but now they represent only the interest of a failed politician in the name of Hakainde

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