The obscene and ostentatious expenditure in the Katuba by election must surely convince all those who doubted that by-election are nothing more than brazen bouts of excessive corruption and abuse of authority intended to influence the mind of the electorate.
While the by election in Katuba is excusable, on account of the bereavement of the sitting MP, there is no justification for a similar exercise to be held anywhere else, least of all because of nullified election results.
The scale of Government participation is mind boggling.
What justification is there to nullify an election result and make way for an even more rapacious frenzy of expenditure. Surely is there any comparison between “electoral corruption” by the Government which moves into a campaign during by elections and the original “corruption” of an individual who may have donated some money to a church group?
The only beneficiaries of the elections and who indeed may not have much to lose are the petitioners, in this case the ruling party which has massive resources at its disposal.
If indeed elections were determined solely on account of money spent then all the opposition parties combined would stand no chance of winning because of the huge resource handicap they suffer compared to the ruling party which is not only enjoying the benefit of incumbency but will utilize unlimited Government resources to campaign.
Suddenly Katuba has become a major focus of development. Both the President and Vice President have flown into the area to drum up support for their candidate. Unlike opposition leaders the Government fully funded the Helicopter and vehicle support that the Government officers utilized.
In addition scores of ministers and other leaders have descended on the constituency in an effort to win the vote.
Clearly the total amount of money being spent by the Government is far much more than the amount budgeted for the election proper, which has also seen ballot papers being printed outside the country at huge cost.
Only yesterday the Vice President was in the area addressing a campaign rally after ordering the Disaster Management Unit to rehabilitate a school whose roof was blown away by strong winds. The coincidence between the gesture and looming by elections cannot be lost on anyone.
If not, how come Kalanga Secondary school whose roof was blow away last year has not enjoyed the privilege of a Helicopter visit by the Vice President who would have offered immediate repairs by the DMMU?
The long and short is that the Vice President was campaigning using state resources.
Chances are that our courts will reject any opposition petition arising from this gesture which is obviously campaign related.
That is why we have been consistently opposed to the nullification of seats on account of so called corrupt donations to the electorate. There is no single election in Zambia which has not seen resources changing hands.
The various parties produce and distribute different types of campaign materials to endear themselves to the electorate, but ultimately the elections are about the will of the people. No amount corruption will sway the people if their minds are made up over a candidate. Time and time again election results have shown that money and vitenges will not make much difference to the outcome; otherwise UNIP would have won the 1991 elections because the party spent huge amounts of money on campaigning while the Movement for Multi Party Democracy had very little except their faith in the masses.
That is why we are opposed to the corrupt by election induced as a political scheme to change the character of parliament.