The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has decided to cancel the Kabwata By-Elections after the United Progressive Party (UPP) Kabwata Parliamentary by-election candidate, Mr. Libanda Francis sent in a second letter today invoking the provisions of different Article 52(6) of the Constitution of Zambia, which among other things includes resigning from the sponsoring party.
In a press briefing this afternoon, ECZ Chief Electoral Officer Patrick Nshindano said that the commission had rejected the withdrawal from the election by the UPP candidate dated 7th January 2022, and allowed the by-election to proceed as planned as provided for by the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016, Section 31 (2) which empowers the Commission to reject a withdrawal and proceed with the election, emphasizing that a “withdrawal” is clearly only permitted before the closing of nominations as provided under Section 31(2) of the Electoral Process Act.
Mr. Nshindano, however, said that with the second letter received today from Mr. Libanda dated 10th January 2022, the second letter the candidate sent to the commission today clarifying his decision whilst invoking the provision of Article 52 of the Republican Constitution The Electoral Process Act under Section 31(2), the law requires the cancellation of elections and this calls for fresh nominations for eligible candidates.
Mr. Nshindano said that in this case, Mr. Libanda, in his letter dated 10th January 2022 has invoked the provisions of Article 52(6) of the Constitution of Zambia, and given that this is a Constitutional provision, the Commission is bound to comply without any discretion to do otherwise.
“In this regard, the Commission hereby cancels the election for Kabwata Parliamentary by-election pursuant to the said Article 52(6) of the Republican Constitution and will be conducting fresh nominations for Kabwata Constituency on dates to be advised once a Statutory Instrument has been finalised.
“This, therefore, means that all campaign-related activities for Kabwata Constituency have been cancelled and will only commence on the date of fresh nominations, ” he said
Mr Nshindano said that as the law requires fresh nominations, it entails that all aspiring candidates in the Kabwata Parliamentary by-election including those that had originally filed in nominations will be required to pay the prescribed nomination fee, adding that the Commission also recognizes that this process may inconvenience stakeholders, especially political parties that had successfully fielded candidates as they will be required to file fresh nominations.
Mr Nshindano further said that that ballot papers for the elections are were scheduled to arrive tomorrow Tuesday 11th 2022 via Kenneth Kaunda International Airport from Dubai and that the resignation of Mr Libanda comes with unwarranted costs as the already printed ballot papers are a cost that needs to be paid for in addition to other electoral activity costs.
Mr Nshindano called upon Political parties to thoroughly scrutinise candidates they intend to field in any election to avoid a waste of resources and other inconveniences caused to the Commission, Political Parties and other stakeholders.
“With the foregoing, stakeholders may note that there is an urgent need to review the electoral laws to enhance the integrity of the electoral process and safeguard scarce public resources that could have otherwise been used for other developmental programmes,” Mr Nshindano said, adding that the Commission, working with other stakeholders, will soon embark on a thorough review of the electoral laws in order to enhance the electoral process.