WHICHEVER way people look at Matero Member of Parliament Miles Sampa’s move to resign from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), the fact is that it is ill-timed, especially that there are only four months before Parliament is dissolved to allow for campaigns, and six months to the general election period.
Though Mr Sampa has told his electorate that he would not cause a by-election before the elections in August, the fact is that by-election or not, his move is costly to the nation and to the people of Zambia.
It is like a father who divorces his wife of many years and tells his children that his action would not affect them in any way.
Imagine the mental confusion the people of Matero Constituency are going through now.
Worse still, resigning five months before the August 11 general elections means having a by-election before Parliament is dissolved, an exercise which would be costly to the nation.
However, following Mr Sampa’s previous political activities, his resignation from the PF was written on the wall.
He could have done the nation a favour if he resigned a long time ago to avoid subjecting the country to a wrongly-timed by-election and mental torture to the electorate.
Resigning immediately after he lost his presidential bid in January last year could have helped to save taxpayers’ money, which is likely to go into the by-election before the general elections.
What this means now is that after the by-election in 90 days, Parliament would be dissolved and the people of Matero would have to vote for another candidate during the general elections.
Moreover, campaigns for the general elections are scheduled to start in May and this is a cost that could have been avoided.
Yes, mistakes have been made before, but there is no need to continue allowing more errors that are costly to the nation.
It is, therefore, against this background that we are of the view that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) should consider reviewing the electoral laws to avoid resignations of MPs in an election year to prevent by-elections.
The ECZ should also consider stopping political parties formed during an election year from contesting in a general election because they are time wasters even if it is their constitutional right to do so.
Of course, people have the constitutional right to form or belong to any political party, but in the case where this right is being abused as evidenced by the number of political parties whose future is
uncertain, this right must be checked.
It is, therefore, important that the law is re-visited to save the nation’s resources as a result of selfish individuals.
Why should a country have political parties that are only visible during an election year and do not play a meaning role in providing checks and balances to the Government?
The most important job of the opposition is to constantly provide checks and balances to the Government.
Any Government has to remain answerable to the public at all times, and a good opposition can put the spotlight on serious issues and have them resolved quickly.
An active opposition will also debate legislation vigorously in the House and during the Select Committee process to ensure the legislation receives careful consideration.
But what is obtaining in the Zambian set-up is different because of one-man parties hibernating after losing an election or pulling out of the race, thus rendering them useless to the democratic dispensation.
The country has more than 10 opposition political parties and some are born today, but what is the benefit to the public when they cannot perform their roles?
This is so confusing to the electorate, and one thing the voters should do is to reject the people that create unnecessary by-elections.
However, with the 50 per cent plus one clause in the amended Constitution, there is a likelihood of the parties failing to satisfy the provision and thus call for re-runs, which is a possibility, and could be costly.
This would mean having an electoral process lasting for at least six months, and meanwhile development activities go to sleep.
What becomes of the economy, thereafter, especially in the wake of the international shocks that have affected the economy?
We, therefore, urge the electorate not to vote for candidates that attract by-elections as a way of teaching them a lesson. OPINION