[By Edwin Mbulo in Mongu]
THE ECZ is hiding President Edgar Lungu’s worthiness and assets because they know that it can be a rude shock to Zambians, says NDC interim president Josephs Akafumba.
In an interview with The Mast after featuring on Oblate Liseli radio in Mongu on Tuesday evening, Akafumba who is in the company of UPND-Alliance co-chair and ADD president Charles Milupi said it is totally strange that the ECZ has now departed from the usual culture of publicly announcing the assets and worthiness of presidential aspirants.
“The conduct of the ECZ raises suspicion and eyebrows because the declaration of assets is because Zambians need to know how much in terms of credits and assets is one aspiring to be Head of State. It does not only promote good governance but also transparency. If one is a pauper it must be so. In 2011, Michael Sata declared seven guns and people realised he was in love with guns. In all the subsequent general elections, assets for presidential candidates were made public,” he said. “I suspect the realisation that Edgar Lungu was publicly known to be worth K23 million a few months after declaring that he was worth K1.8 million [in 2014 ahead of 2015 presidential elections], after 2016 it did not go well with President Lungu and the ECZ. This year it has become top secret. Why we don’t know but we can only suspect that his worthiness and assets can be a rude shock to Zambians.”
Akafumba added that it was not that so late for the ECZ to publicly tell the nation how worth is President Lungu.
He said the ECZ is a total embarrassment to the nation because it keeps on changing electoral rules and guidelines to suit President Lungu
“It was operating as a wing of the PF…Let them make declarations now although belated not only for President Lungu but all presidential candidates. We don’t want one with K2 to end up with K2 billion in a few months. The ECZ action is not good for democracy,” he said.
He further challenged President Lungu to swallow his pride and tell the nation what he declared.
“What is he scared of? We want to know his sources of riches,” demanded Akafumba.
The ECZ claims assets declarations can only be accessed or released by the Supreme Court.
But responding to The Mast solicitation for disclosure of declaration of assets for presidential candidates, acting Chief Justice Michael Musonda, State Counsel, said these are kept by the ECZ chairperson – in this case justice Esau Chulu.
“I refer to and thank you for your letter dated 26th May, 2021. In your said letter, you sought to have the Office of the Chief Justice of the Republic of Zambia avail you the who list of validly nominated Presidential Candidates together with declarations relating to the said candidates’ assets and [li]abilities,” stated justice Musonda. “Please note that the provisions contained in Articles 99 and 100 of the Constitution of Zambia as amended by the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 and as read with section 30 of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 make it clear that the list of validly nominated Presidential Candidates and declarations of assets and liabilities relating to such candidates are kept or maintained by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) who is the designated Returning Officer. In the premises, your request, in so far as it was addressed to this office, is clearly misdirected.”
Earlier, on radio, Milupi wondered why the declaration of President Lungu’s assets was now a secret.
He also said the biggest opposition to the UPND-Alliance is the Zambia Police and the Electoral Commission of Zambia, not the PF.
He has warned that the two institutions may set the country on fire if they continue on the current path.
Milupi told programme host Namakau Kayombo that in 2011 all presidential candidates including himself did publicly declare the value of their assets.
“Just now go to any PF official and see how rich they are, starting with the President. From 2015 when he declared his assets was K1.8 million, 15 months later from he was K23 million richer. Today (during nomination filing) he has declared but the ECZ has failed to publish what he owns so that we know,” he said. “In 2011 when I stood for president I declared, Hakainde Hichilema declared. In 2015, HH declared, in 2016 HH declared, but today because of what they have destroyed, they are even ashamed to publish what was declared. All of a sudden it is a secret.”
Milupi said the UPND-Alliance would run an open government under Hichilema.
He added that Hichilema would not embark on a witch-hunt for PF corruption cases but shall instead strengthen law enforcement agencies such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) and the Zambia Police so that they can professionally investigate and prosecute the crimes committed by PF leaders. “So that they can be punished properly. But above all we have a plan that they return all that they have stolen. Nothing can now be hidden. It’s an open book, all stolen properties will be returned,” Milupi said.
He said a UPND-Alliance government would lower costs of production and embark on value addition on all natural resources such as copper and timber so as to enhance job creation.
Milupi said fuel costs was too high because of so many middlemen in the procurement processes.
He added that marketeers, taxi and bus drivers need to graduate to own their own fleet of vehicles through the introduction of low interest rate loans by government.
Milupi pledged that oil and diamond explorations shall be opened up saying the geological belt in which these minerals lie in Namibia and Botswana is the same as that of Western Province.
He said the failure to exploit such natural resources was due to those in government
“…there is no government with such a distraction as PF,” Milupi said.
He said the PF is finished adding that the Zambia Police should protect the opposition and help not to set the country on fire.
Milupi charged that the PF wants to rig the August 12 elections using the police and ECZ.
“If they want to set the country alight, let them continue with what they are doing. We are engaging with the ECZ and police through the IG (Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja) and we have told them that you two institutions will set this country alight if you continue on this path,” he said. “We want true, fair and transparent elections, not what is being done now.”
Meanwhile, on the opinion poll that tipped President Lungu will win the August elections, NDC interim president Josephs Akafumba and Milupi first laughed before rubbishing the poll.
“The PF is good at writing its own script and marking it,” Akafumba said.
He said police officers now fear PF cadres and wondered how this could translate into good governance as stated by the opinion poll.
Akafumba added that it was now easier to get a plot from a PF cadre than the council.
On poverty, he said Western Province was the hardest hit due to PF failures
“No dictator wants a well fed nation because a well fed nation asks how their money is being used,” he said.
Akafumba said the UPND-Alliance wants to restore Zambians dignity in life.
“The country is divided on tribal lines and needs reconstruction because even the foundation has been removed,” said Akafumba.