ACKSON Sejani has called on Zambians to punish the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party in next year’s elections for what he termed the messy voter registration exercise they have been subjected to.
Sejani, a former local government minister in the Frederick Chiluba administration, said people lost their lives for the right to vote.
“Zambians must punish PF at the polls for subjecting them to this treatment outside polling stations. Voter registration has never been such a tedious and time consuming exercise as we are seeing now,” he said in a statement. “The right to vote did not come cheaply to us and in fact we had to fight for it. In some instances, lives were lost fighting for the right to vote. Since this right never came cheaply we will also not allow any one or any government to take it away cheaply.”
Sejani, who reflected deeply on the current chaotic voter registration, demanded an extension to the process.
He also wondered what type of a provisional register the Electoral commission of Zambia (ECZ) would come up with if the process could be too chaotic.
“Those of our compatriots who have been left behind must be captured to also partake in next year’s elections. We demand a substantial extension of the voter registration exercise covering all polling stations again,” Sejani said.
“Given these levels of inefficiencies being exhibited by the ECZ, I am also left wondering in what state the provisional register will be. The nation must brace itself for one hell of a jumbled mess where our names will be sprinkled all over the show. It will not be strange to find voters in Nakonde appearing under polling stations in Kalomo while those in Kalomo will be sprinkled all over Chavuma. Nobody at this stage must underestimate the capacity of the ECZ for incompetence.”
Sejani urged people to use the time they spent on queuing up to register “to campaign against the PF for wasting their time”.
“This is the valuable time they should have been using fending for their children in these difficult economic times created by the same PF. These queues must give birth to an unstoppable movement against the PF,” he said. “Phase one of the mobile voter registration exercise has ended throughout the country and the teams have shifted, leaving crowds of unregistered eligible Zambians behind. In fact, the first phase has only managed to capture about a third of the numbers we had in 2016.”
Sejani said fears people expressed about the voter registration process had come to pass.
“Our worst fears have come to pass and this will be the pattern in all the remaining phases of this exercise. At the end of the day, ECZ will only manage to capture a third of what we had in 2016. This is the reality now because we are no longer speculating but we are talking about real people left on the queues outside these polling stations. What will happen to these people ECZ has left behind?” Sejani asked. “This crisis in voter registration is the creation of the Patriotic Front government and their electoral commission. In other words, PF and ECZ are partners in crime. It is therefore immoral and cheap for the PF to try and distance themselves from the mess they have created whilst acting together with the ECZ. The ECZ represents the PF in all the meetings they try to have with other political parties.”
And Sejani questioned the sudden shift by the PF where they have also condemned the ECZ’s slow pac of the exercise.
On November 11, PF secretary general Davies Mwila issued a statement, expressing concern about the slow pace of the process.
“We are receiving reports from different parts of the country that its taking in excess of 10 minutes for an individual to be issued with the voter’s card. Added to this is the reported lack of sufficient manpower to attend to citizens expeditiously. We are therefore calling on ECZ to up its game by ensuring that they increase the number of personnel attending to members of the public as well as ensure that there is adequate equipment in areas less catered for,” said Mwila. “The Patriotic Front believes that the integrity of any election begins with a smooth and efficient voter registration process. Hence, it is our hope that ECZ will move with speed to address these serious concerns in different parts of the country. ECZ may wish to reconsider stationing their personnel at designated voter registration centres for the stipulated thirty (30) days, as opposed to the ‘rotational formula’ which the Commission is currently implementing. In short, PF is calling for increased manpower and equipment per centre, so as to ensure that as many eligible citizens as possible get registered as voters.”
But Sejani referred to the recent meeting ECZ had with stakeholders where President Edgar Lungu never uttered a word for his party.
“Even recently, at the summit with other party presidents, Mr Lungu remained suspiciously and curiously quiet when other parties were presenting their concerns regarding the way ECZ was proceeding. He was quiet because he knew that ECZ was presenting their joint position. So what is this flurry of letters and statements from PF condemning the ECZ?” he asked.
“First it was the Vice-President, followed by the acting Minister of Information, then the secretary general of the party; thus opening the floodgates for every party official in PF taking turns in condemning the ECZ. This is cheap, coming from a party that is directing ECZ what to do and coming from a government that is supposed to fund the Commission. This is also a lesson to the Commission to be careful with whom they go to bed with because these people will desert you at the slightest hint of trouble. Here we are, the PF is already washing their hands from the mess, leaving the Commission to bear the full brunt of the national anger.”
Sejani urged people never to forgive the PF for the pain they have caused them.
“Zambians must not forgive PF for the pain they are undergoing at the registration centres because they are the true architects of this crisis. They were and are still scheming against the opposition,” said Sejani. “There is however a down side to this scheming because if you over scheme you may end up scheming against yourself. Like in football if you over dribble you may end up dribbling yourself and you fall down in the process.”