FODEP Challenges ECZ on Cost of By-Elections
The Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) has challenged the Electoral Commission of Zambia on its latest report suggesting the body has spent K3.5 million rebased on each of the 20 by-elections held in the last two years.
This is contradictory to ECZ’s statement last year on by-elections in which the body said it spent an average of K6.2 million on three of the many by-elections held in 2013.
Below is the full FODEP statement
THE Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) is surprised at the contradictory statements from the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) with regards the cost of parliamentary by-elections in Zambia.
The recent revelation that the Commission spends an average of ZMK3.5m is in sharp contrast to last year’s revelation by the same Commission in May that it was spending not less than ZMK5million rebased per by-election, of course, considerate of the location and size of the concerned constituency.
To illustrate this, in 2013, the Commission told the nation that Kapiri-Mposhi and Lukulu West parliamentary by-elections cost a whopping ZMK11m rebased while Feira by-election cost ZMK7.7m rebased bringing the average of the trio to ZMK6.2million per constituency. Where, then is ZMK3.5million coming from?
The Commission should ensure that a correct figure of how much has been spent on the 20 parliamentary and local government by-elections to enable stakeholders make informed comments on the continued expenditure on mostly unnecessary by-elections.
On the printing of ballot papers outside Zambia and the revelation that the country has no capable printers, FODEP would like to challenge the government to own up and honor its promise made in 2011 of capacitating Government Printers to print ballot papers locally.
This will drastically reduce the cost of by-elections as a result a flying ballot papers and ECZ staff to and from London where the printing is currently being done.
Further, local printing will create employment opportunities to many Zambians and bring foreign exchange unlike now that we are spending foreign exchange.
On the continuous voter registration as provided for in section 4 (2) of the Electoral, subsection (3) and (4) of section 4 of the Electoral Act No. 12 of 2006 instructs the Commission “to suspend the registration of voters whenever an election is due” and “when the Commission has prescribed the polling day for the by-election.” The suspension accordingly is “in districts in which the by-election is to take place”
It is for this reason that the Commission should state the exact problem for its failure to conduct continuous voter registration even in areas where by-elections are not due disregarding the legal provisions. This will help stakeholders appreciate the problem and assist in lobbying or advocating for solutions.