By McDonald Chipenzi
INSIDE LOOK AT THE COMMISSIONERS AT THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION.
The Electoral commission 0f Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 5 of 2019 spells out the qualifications for one to be a member of the Commission which is an improvement to the principal Act No. 25 of 2016 which did not have specified qualifications for members of the Commission.
Under the amended Act, “a person is qualified for appointment as a member [of the Commission] if a) [that person] has a school certificate or its equivalent, b) holds a degree or its equivalent…, c) has knowledge and experience in ( i) election administration and management (ii) finance (iii) governance (iv) public Administration (v) law.
The five (5) commiszioners might have all the qualifications except (c) and (c)(i) which talks about “knowledge and experience in election administration and management”.
This is so, because, other than Commissioner Ali Simwinga, who could have gained this knowledge and experience in “election administration and management” by default as former Town Clerk for Kitwe, the position which gave him the position of District Electoral Officer, in addition to his law qualifications, the rest seem to be remotely from this requirement of possessing “experience and knowledge in election administration and management” and consequently the Electoral Process.
It could have been a job on training on electoral matters at entry point for almost all the Commissioners save for the above mebtioned and those who have been there at the Commission long enough, have gained this knowledge and experience in election management and administration.
Being a crucial year as elections are in less than 12 months, the appointing authority, in this case the president, should have ensured that the appointees had relevant experience and knowledge in election administration and management in addition to their academic and professional qualifications, to avoid spending time doing job on training and applying the “trial and error” methods
The two (2) newly ratified and appointed Commissioners may also be in the similar position of the “job on training”.
I read one of the appointees is a former military person while the other is a former civil servant in the Ministry of Home Affairs, perhaps both must have knowledge and experience in public Administration since military training is not part of the qualifications for them to fit in the requirements for one to be a member of the Commission.
It is important that parliament, when considering the scrutinisation of such presidential appointments, involve, at least, witnesses with knowledge and experience in election administration and management.
I doubt if the two new Commissioners have ever monitored or observed any election either locally or and international or and exposed to the Electoral Process to appreciate the administration and management of elections in Zambia or elsewhere in the world.
This will, in turn, compel ECZ to spend more money flying the two unexposed commissioners to expose them to the Electoral Process within and outside, electoral systems and electoral activities when they are supposed to invest such monies to enhance the Commission operations.