Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Appointing politically inclined commissioners to ECZ appears like a scheme to rig future elections

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Copperbelt-based outspoken Catholic Priest Fr. Augustine Mwewa has alleged that appointing politically inclined commissioners to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) appears like a scheme to rig future elections.

President Hakainde Hichilema’s recent decision to appoint veteran Lusaka lawyer Mwangala Zaloumis and governance commentator McDonald Chipenzi as ECZ Chairperson and commissioner respectively has sparked debate on the manner in which commissioners must be appointed.

Some people have alleged that Ms. Zaloumis and Mr. Chipenzi are too close to the ruling UPND.

In an interview in Ndola, Fr. Mwewa, of St. Ignatius Parish in Tug Argan, said he fears for ECZ following the appointment of Ms. Zaloumis and Mr. Chipenzi to the commission.

He said Mr. Chipenzi is a well known ruling UPND supporter who should have declined the presidential appointment to ECZ.

Fr. Mwewa said he would have loved to see Parliament decline to ratify the appointment of Ms. Zaloumis and Mr. Chipenzi had Members of Parliament not been partisan.

“I fear for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), we have people like Chipenzi, he has been in these NGOs. Wherever he has been unless he is the Chief Executive Officer or else he starts a new organisation. For me Chipenzi has been politically inclined. He has been almost a vuvuzela of the UPND. I could have waited for Members of Parliament to do justice in Parliament but knowing how MPs work, they do not think independently. They will toll the line of their political parties. It is sad that a person who has been in the civil society could not have said no to the appointment. He should have shown that dignity. Chipenzi has been defending UPND even when they are supposed to speak. He has been like a spokesperson for UPND and he is so emotional on UPND matters. Sometimes he tries to be objective but he is politically inclined. He does not qualify to be in ECZ,” Fr. Mwewa said.

Fr. Mwewa said only respected people should be appointed as ECZ commissioners.

“With due respect to madam Zaloumis, it is like when we appoint Panji Kaunda to go to Malawi (as High Commissioner), he is over 70, that is common sense for everyone to see. This is the same with the madam (Ms. Zaloumis). Look previously, we had respected people running ECZ like the late Justice Ireen Mambilima, internationally recognised people. Let us be magnanimous, ECZ point of view paints a gloomy picture. It is like someone is preparing to come and rig the forthcoming elections. So, that one tells me where we are going. Then Zambians we are just there watching in our bedrooms. What are we doing about these issues?” Fr. Mwewa said.

A number of organisations and individuals have spoken against the appointment of Ms. Zaloumis and Mr. Chipenzi to the commission.

Patriotic Front presidential aspirant Chishimba Kambwili has since advised President Hichilema to reverse the appointments of Ms Zaloumis and Mr Chipenzi as ECZ chairperson and ECZ commissioner respectively.

Meanwhile, the Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) recently called for a more transparent and independent recruitment procedure for the appointment of commissioners for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).

CCMG Steering Committee Chairperson Bishop Andrew Mwenda said there is a need to reduce the role of the President in the appointment process of ECZ commissioners.

Bishop Mwenda said there is need for an appointment process which allows for, among other things, a public call for applications for any vacant Commissioner roles with clearly outlined qualifications and selection criteria that entrenches the principles of independence, non partisanship, competence and integrity.

But Republican Vice President Mutale Nalumango recently in Parliament defended the appointment of Ms. Zaloumis as ECZ Chairperson.

Mrs. Nalumango said President Hakainde Hichilema has not appointed any political party cadres to hold Constitutional office at the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) as alleged by his critics.

During the Vice President’s question time in Parliament, Mrs Nalumango said that President Hichilema has appointed Zambians who are qualified to hold the positions.

She stated that the President is extremely careful when he makes appointments to key positions in the governance of the country.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Freedom to criticise our government has been realised in the current New Dawn government. Lets enjoy our new freedom of expression

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  2. Christians for lungu……….

    Those elections are a mere formality………….

    Try in 2031………….

    Forward 2031…………..

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    1
  3. There is no such thing as neutrality in politics
    Its more about moral and ethical conduct
    so lets not look for the impossible

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