THE summoning of MMD president Nevers Mumba after he issued a statement highlighting some electoral malpractices his party observed in the just ended Lukashya by-election is misplaced, misguided and an act of intimidation, says MacDonald Chipenzi.
Chipenzi, the Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative Zambia executive director, said the act was also setting a very dangerous precedent in the electoral process as it will act as a “chill pill” in many stakeholders’ effective participation in the electoral process especially those who would want to raise similar electoral irregularities.
“Dr Mumba does not need or deserve intimidation, harassment or questioning by police; rather commendation for being patriotic and for aspiring for a credible, transparent and accountable electoral process which is also coated with integrity. The police and ECZ should rather be happy with such citizens and launch investigations in the alleged rigging allegations during the by-election as highlighted by Dr Mumba instead of trying to intimidate him,” he said.
Chipenzi said it would be erroneous for the Zambia Police Service to assume the role of the manager of elections, when it was just a sister institution in the electoral process, for it to try and micromanage and censure stakeholders using their constitutional and statutory powers.
“Why hasn’t the ECZ be the ones summoning Dr Mumba on the allegations which border on the management and administration of elections and subject his statement to the deliberation of the National Conflict Management Committee of the ECZ?” he asked. “Who is the complaint against Dr Mumba for the police to be moved when in many cases the police have not moved on electoral reported cases regardless of the complaints? It seems clear that the summoning of Dr Mumba is political and police are seemingly being used to silence the political opponents of the ruling party.”
Chipenzi said allegations of malpractice, corruption and blackmail before and during elections had been highlighted before and the police had neither moved nor summoned those who raised such.
He said the police’s act to summon a whistleblower in the electoral process instead of investigating the allegations raised entails that the institution was now shielding electoral malpractices.
Chipenzi said such was a clear signal of its allergies to transparency and accountability in the electoral process at the same time shrinking the political, civic and electoral space in Zambia.
“It is the first time in the electoral history in Zambia that the electoral space is now no longer a safe place to effectively participate in. Citizens have been arrested and charged with capital offences, killed, harassed, intimidated and have their vehicles damaged, all because of their love to participate in the electoral process and enjoy their freedom of association, assembly and expression while police fail to protect their lives and properties,” he said. “Therefore, the summoning of Dr Mumba will definitely have a telling effect on foreign and local observers and monitors who can now be classified as endangered species as they have high chance of issuing such statements similar to that which has allegedly landed Dr Mumba with police call-outs.”
GEARS demands the end of harassment, intimidation and persecution of electoral stakeholders.
Chipenzi demanded a fair and free play field where the referee (ECZ) and laymen and women (police) were not seen to be biased towards or pitting one team against the other.
“Dr Mumba’s summoning by the police must be abandoned/dropped to allow the ECZ do its rebuttal on the allegations raised and also to avoid the impression that the Zambia Police is being used to fight political battles for ECZ and the ruling party,” said Chipenzi. “Let Dr Mumba be allowed to enjoy his freedom of expression, opinion and association and freely impart and communicate such opinion to the public or class of individual without police interference. Dr Mumba should not be a victim of his electoral consciousness.”