26 December 2013

Zambia: Opposition Calls On President Sata to Hold Early Elections

Political Activist Dante Saunders has said he supports proposals for President Michael Sata to call for early elections because of the high number of opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) losing their seats through court nullifications.

Saunders's comments echo earlier statements by MMD president Dr Nevers Mumba and other members of the opposition.

"Looking at the rate at which the opposition Members of Parliament are losing their seats, we shall find ourselves in the situation where it will not be necessary anymore to have the opposition in parliament. This is against the basic tenets of democracy. It is unprecedented in Zambia. If the Patriotic Front feels there are many Members of Parliament who were elected fraudulently, then let President Sata dissolve parliament and call for early elections to solve the whole problem instead of subjecting us to one by-election after another," Saunders said.

He said it was unethical for the Patriotic Front (PF) to continue abusing the electorate through constant by-elections that were retrogressive and a drain on Zambia's meagre resources.

Saunders said early elections would help both the PF and the opposition to resolve any matters relating to alleged electoral fraud and corruption.

He said President Michael Sata must address the continuation of unnecessary by-elections because Zambians had become tired of the trend, but wanted to see development.

Last week, MMD president Dr Nevers Mumba said his party was concerned with the rate at which its MPs were losing seats and called for early elections before all the seats were nullified.

And Saunders said Dr Mumba was justified to propose the call for early elections because opposition MPs were no longer safe in parliament. He said opposition MPs, especially those with critical voices in parliament had been targeted.

He cited former Solwezi West Member of Parliament Lucky Mulusa as one of the targets who lost his seat after the court nullified his election on allegations that he donated K1, 000 to local church during the 2011 political campaigns.

"Let us go for fresh elections instead of individual by-elections. I support the call for early elections because that will help us get out of this problem because one realises that so many parliamentary seats have been nullified and from the luck of things, we still have many more nullifications coming in future. So why continue with such a trend when we can actually go for early elections and sort out the problem once and for all so that we can focus our attention on more important and pressing issues in the country," said Saunders.

He said the opposition parties in Zambia must unite and move with one voice in fighting the moves that are aimed at killing the opposition in Zambia democratic dispensation.

Saunders said Zambians must remain alert because democracy was under threat of extinction following the PF's attempts to assert themselves in power.

He said any efforts aimed at destroying the gains Zambia had made in terms of democracy and development must be rejected because Zambia could no longer afford to lag behind when the world was fast moving forward in democratisation and development of its people.

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