…political parties cry foul over 1000 supporters
SIX opposition political parties have opposed the requirement for 1,000 supporters drawn from all 10 provinces as stipulated in the new constitution and described it as retrogressive and undemocratic.
The parties claimed that the requirement was a farce and an abhorrent to democracy as it was mooted by big parties with financial muscle to the disadvantage of smaller parties.
They have since appealed to President Lungu to take it back to parliament for amendments
The six are Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), People’s Party (PP), National Revolution Party (NRP), Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM), Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) and Zambia Republican Party (ZRP) who have all rejected the clause.
Among other qualifications for presidential nominations, article 100 (j) stipulates that a person qualifies to be nominated as a candidate for election as President if that person is supported by at least 100 registered voters from each province. Zambia has currently 10 provinces after the creation of Muchinga by President Michael Sata (late) which translates into 1,000 supporters under the new requirement. The qualification for previous Presidential elections was for a candidate to go for nomination with 200 registered voters. The parties alleged that the clause was aimed at preventing some political parties which did not have the financial muscle from contesting in general elections by making the nomination process more costly, saying the clause should be re-tabled. FDD spokesperson Antonio Mwanza said that ferrying 100 registered voters from each of the 10 provinces to Lusaka was unattainable as the exercise could gobble the entire budget for an election for a party.
“This article is irrelevant. It is cumbersome. What are we trying to achieve by unnecessarily raising the expenditure of political parties? Prevent some parties from taking part in an election? This is an assault to democracy and we shall not support it.
PP president Mike Mulongoti said it was not possible for some parties to avail 1000 registered voters, arguing that there was nothing political parties needed to prove about their popularity for them to bring such massive numbers of people during nominations.
And ZRP leader Wright Musoma said the Article had the potential to force other parties which had financial constraints into oblivion because they will never field candidates.
“Who, in his right senses, can support such an extravagant article? Look, opposition political parties are not funded by Government and so, it is only the party in power that has an advantage over this matter because they have all the resources at their disposal,” Mr. Musoma said.
Meanwhile, ADD president Charles Milupi, ZDDM vice president Charles Kafumbo and NRP president Cosmo Mumba echoed the same sentiments saying the Article would have to be re-tabled or the people’s wish for representation would be suppressed. Article 100 of the amended constitution provides that a person qualifies to be nominated as a candidate for election as president if that person is a citizen by birth or descent; has been ordinarily resident in Zambia; is at least 35 years old; is a registered voter; has obtained, as a minimum academic qualification, a Grade 12 certificate or its equivalent; is fluent in the official language; has paid that person’s taxes or has made arrangements, satisfactory to the appropriate tax authority, for the payment of the taxes; declares that person’s assets and liabilities, as prescribed; pays the prescribed election fee on, or before, the date fixed for the delivery of nomination papers; and is supported by at least 100 registered voters from each Province. The Constitution Amendment Bill which passed through Parliament last Friday awaits Presidential assent.