There will be challenges for ECZ in 2021 – M’membe

NO government is permanent, says Socialist Party president Fred M’membe.

Dr M’membe notes that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) will breed problems, if it does not build consensus on the electoral process.

On Hot FM radio’s Red Hot breakfast show on Tuesday, programme co-host, Mutale Mwanza, asked Dr M’membe if he thought there was currently any wind of change.

“Nothing is permanent in life – everything changes. Even our bodies are changing every second; the cells are replicating themselves. No government is permanent, no system is permanent,” Dr M’membe answered.

He said capitalism, just like colonialism, would crumble.

“Humanity started living under primitive communalism where we were just hunters and gatherers. Then we came to the slave-owning society which lasted thousands of years, then we came to the feudal society and then we entered the capitalist society,” he explained. “The capitalist society is not permanent; it’s just about 600, 700 years old. It will go away and be replaced with another system. There was colonialism in this country and we never thought it would end. [But] it ended. There was the one party state which was so powerful and we never thought it would end. [But] it ended. Nothing is permanent; everything is under motion. Everything is undergoing change.”

Dr M’membe told socially and economically distraught Zambians that: “it gets dark sometimes but the morning comes.”

“Don’t give up! Don’t despair. A better society is possible but we have to struggle for it. It won’t just come like manna. Good things don’t come easy, they don’t come for themselves,” he said. “We have to work for them. Let’s work for a better society where children can have access to education, to health services, to food, and grow up in a dignified way.”

Dr M’membe, who was Post Newspapers editor-in-chief and managing director for over two decades, refused credit of catapulting the PF into power in 2011.

“I did not create PF and it is an over credit to give me all the credit for Michael’s victory in 2011. I don’t think I deserve that credit,” he said, when a caller told him that a monster (the PF) he helped to create has now turned against him. “If I could put Michael [Sata] into government in 2011, then it would be very easy to put the Socialist Party in government next year.”

On divisive electoral matters, Dr M’membe cautioned that without building sufficient consensus on what the ECZ was doing, “we’ll have problems.”

“Firstly, the way ECZ is composed; the people who are appointed to be the commissioners, the chairperson, the vice-chairperson, others of the ECZ are competitors in elections. Our law is such that today the President appoints all those people single-handedly, without consulting other stakeholders,” he said. “Yes, there is ratification in Parliament but that’s a Parliament they dominate as well, and they just need a simple majority to do that. The other stakeholders have no say in who the referees, the match commissioners are.”

Dr M’membe pointed out that it was for that reason that whatever ECZ officials try to do, “no matter how good it is,” was viewed with suspicion.

“The amount of work that they need, to bring consensus and [to] bring acceptability, is much higher than they are doing right now. They are not approaching issues in a manner that will result in maximum consensus,” he noted. “Without building that consensus, without adequate consensus over everything that they do…Some of the schemes they are coming up with are questionable. I don’t know how they will manage to register nine million people in 30 days. And what does the law say? It requires continuous voter registration. Every citizen who is 19 years should not be denied the chance to vote.”

He stressed that the ECZ would have many problems in 2021.

“The resources available to ECZ to conduct next year’s elections are limited. The government is broke! We don’t know if there will be donors to fund our elections next year,” said Dr M’membe.

“There will be challenges! We are used to expensive elections [but] next year money will not be available. It’s not easy to build consensus.”

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