GEARS executive director McDonald Chipenzi says holding of the Vubwi District Council chairperson by-election is unnecessary.

Chipenzi argues that the election falls within the 180-day period in which by-elections are not supposed to be held in Zambia.

In a statement, Chipenzi explained that the by-election would just be drain on the national treasury.

“The Vubwi Town Council chairperson by-election in Vubwi district of Eastern Province is an unnecessary expense to the national treasury and must be stopped or cancelled forthwith. Inasmuch as the by-election falls within 90 days in which to hold it, the 90-day period also falls within the 180-day period in which by-elections are not supposed to held in Zambia,” Chipenzi argued. “If we take the date the late councillor died or the day he was interred which was 22nd December, 2020 and interred on 25 December 2020 respectively, the 90-day period within which to hold the by-election ends on 22 or 24 March, 2021 which is within the period any by-election cannot be held.”

He argued that the Constitution in article 57 (2) is very instructive of holding by-elections.

“The 4th February 2021 which has been set by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) for holding this by-election is just eight days shy of the start of the 180-day period in which by-elections must not be held. With the economic meltdown that the country is in and that 12 February which is the start of the 180-day period is just eight days from the prescribed election date and that the 90-day period within which the by-election must be held ends on 21 March 2021. ECZ must have not considered to hold this by-election in all fairness to the political stakeholders and the treasury,” Chipenzi said. “Going ahead with this by-election will be a sheer waste of time, money, energies and a mockery as the person to be elected will only serve for 98 days as chairperson and then follows an automatic dissolution of Councils countrywide will follow by 12 May, 2021. With an ambitious and tight electoral calendar ahead of the Commission and the fears of COVID-19, the noble thing the Commission must do, is to cancel this by-election as it will not even be in breach of the Constitution or any electoral law to do so and if the Commission insists to proceed, the treasury must intervene.”

Chipenzi further explains that the ECZ can reserve the energies and funds meant for this by-election to embark on a robust publicity and education about the coming verification of voters’ exercise.

“However, the quick attention, speed, extra special ear and haste to which the Commission has responded to holding this by-election to fill in the casual vacancy even for just 34 days is puzzling and suspicious. We are aware of some of the casual vacancies that remained unfilled to a few days to the end of the 90-day period in which by-elections must be held; Kafue and Chilanga district council chairperson by-elections while others held outside the 90-day periods; that is Maramba ward by-election in Livingstone, Southern Province which attracted casual response from the Commission to an extent of either reaching the brink of breaking the Constitution or violating it altogether,” noted Chipenzi. “It is our sincere hope and trust that the Commission will reflect on this undertaking and so will the treasury not to further bore the national treasury of unproductive expenses through a by-election like this one which can be skipped or ignored altogether without breaking any electoral law.”

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