By OLIVER SAMBOKO and GIDEON NYENDWA
THE UPND government should ensure that the next Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Director is competent, independent of mind and non-partisan, says Alliance for Community Action (ACA) Executive Director Laura Miti.
And the Patriotic Front says it is suspicious that the ECZ officials are seemingly being forced out at a crucial time when two by –elections are in the offing.
The ECZ has announced that it has reached an agreement to separate with its current Director, Mr Patrick Nshindano and stated that stakeholders will be informed of a new office bearer once appointed.
Ms Miti said as the UPND administration will be appointing a new Chief Electoral Officer, they should not pick their person but someone who has competence, independence of mind and non-partisan.
Ms Miti said it is important for the country to have an electoral body that can promote democracy like the case with the South Aftivan Electoral Commission which is respected for its independence, competence and credibility.
She said the UPND should not focus on having a set of people at ECZ that will favour the party on elections, but on finding individuals who will understand the sanctity of the elections in establishing Zambia as a solid democracy.
She also said the decision by Mr Nshindano to accept the appointment as ECZ Chief Electoral Officer in the first place was ill advised to the extreme.
“Patrick is super smart and competent. He however, accepted a poisoned chalice,” she said.
Ms Miti said the only reason the Patriotic Front appointed Mr Nshindano to the position was to use him to do malicious bidding for them ahead of the 2021 general election.
“It is very difficult to believe that PF, as we knew it, would have appointed someone to a vital electoral office that they did not believe would do their malicious bidding,” she said.
Meanwhile, former PF secretary general Davis Mwila has said forcing officers out from the ECZ in the face of two major by-elections that are coming after the nullification of two Patriotic Front seats is worrying.
Mr Mwila said there was pressure at ECZ to force the people they deem to be politically aligned to PF to resign.
And Mr Mwila said there was too much appetite by the UPND administration to control ECZ that was why three top officials have been kicked out so far.
He said Mr Nshindano had been at ECZ for less than three years and he had been hounded out before his tenure of office could even come to an end.
Mr Mwila said ECZ chairperson Essau Chulu and his deputy Emily Sikazwe were earlier this year told their contracts would not be renewed and now it was Mr Nshindano.
Mr Mwila said what was happening at ECZ was not something new because it was a well-known strategy of the UPND which was happening even in other institutions.
He said they want to fuse their own people in all strategic institutions and Zambians should expect more of such acts as years go by.