—Preparations for the July 25 Mkushi North Parliamentary by-elections have suffered a serious setback following the abrupt disbanding of the District Voter Education Committee (DVEC ) and the Conflict Management Committee.
Presenting their grievance to ZANIS, Members of the two committees said they were appalled by the action taken by Acting Mkushi Council Secretary (CS), Everty Ng’andu, who announced the dissolution of these bodies recently.
DVEC chairperson, Rev Gabriel Silwamba, complained that Mr Ng’andu had effected the decision without regard for procedure, explaining that the DVEC could only be dissolved by the National Voter Education Committee (NVEC) or Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) national executive.
Rev Silwamba said that DVEC members had tried repeatedly to clarify this point with the CS, adding that these efforts had proved futile so far as Mr Ng’andu was adamant in believing that he had jurisdiction to disband the committees.
Rev Silwamba observed that the development had come at critical time as the district was preparing for a Parliamentary by-election, saying that the DVEC has since opted to appeal for urgent intervention from the NVEC at ECZ headquarters.
He said that DVEC observed several irregularities in the move that the CS had taken, adding that the Mr Ng’andu had neither written to NVEC or ECZ’s national executive body to officially inform them about this decision.
And Conflict Management Committee chairperson, Pastor Elliot Phiri, condemned the action taken by the CS and described it as most peculiar.
Pastor Phiri charged that the Mr Ng’andu had treated the DVEC and Conflict Management Members as if these two organisations fell under council jurisdiction.
He stressed that the 2 organisations were sub-committees whose membership had been endorsed by the ECZ, explaining that only the ECZ had the mandate to disband these sub-committees.
He said that it was important for the CS to note that the position of Council Secretary implied that he was the District Electoral Officer and that this position did not accord him powers to disband any sub-committee without any proper reason.
Pastor Phiri alleged that the CS had abruptly disbanded the two committees in a bid to escape the mounting pressure that members were tasking the council regarding financial irregularities involved in handling ECZ funds.
Meanwhile, Mkushi Acting Council Secretary (CS) Everty Ng’andu maintained that he had disbanded the two committees on the basis of members having served beyond their tenure.
Mr Ng’andu, who took up office in the district five months ago, was adamant in his belief that the DVEC and Conflict Management members had surpassed their tenure which, according to him, was supposed to be three years maximum.
He brushed aside any chance of rescinding his decision, saying that he believed that he was applying this move in the best interest of the district.
He said he had since written to organizations involved on the DVEC and Conflict Management panels requesting them to forward names of other people to replace the dissolved committees.
Mr Ng’andu affirmed that he had, in his own words, ‘revoked’ the names of the current DVEC and Conflict Management Committees, on the 26th of May, 2013.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia declared July 25 as date for Mkushi North Parliamentary by-election, following the resignation of Mutale Musonda from opposition Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) to join the ruling Patriotic Front (PF).