The decision by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to increase the number of constituencies from the current 150 to 235 is a welcome development, says Forum for Democracy and Development Copperbelt province coordinator Yotamu Mtayachalo.
Mr Mtayachalo said for Zambia to experience sustainable and even development, there was need to increase the number of constituencies by way of delimitation of rural constituencies which were too vast to manage.
He said that the delimitation of constituencies should come with the devolution of power where elected Members of Parliament’s mandate was to develop their areas.
“In supporting the proposal by ECZ to increase the number of constituencies from the current 150 to 235, government should also consider enacting laws that will empower Zambians to demand for development.
“Let government come up with an economic policy which is centered on devolution of power. People at the grassroots should have the right to demand from the Minister of Finance to know how much their constituency has been allocated in that particular national budget,” said Mr. Mtayachalo.
He said that the current set up where government dictates the nature of development to be taken up in particular areas was not an effective way of developing the nation.
“As FDD we feel that people at the grassroots should be allowed to participate through their elected leaders unlike the way it is now. Even if we increase the current number to 235, it will not help at all because government will dictate. Government will still have too much power to do things the way they want,” said Mr. Mtayachalo.
Mr. Mtayachalo also challenged the PF’s general secretary Wynter Kabimba to explain the reason behind the creation of new districts by President Sata when the party was opposing the proposal to increase the number of constituencies.
He said it did not make sense for Mr. Kabimba to be comfortable with the decision by President Sata to create new districts but not with increasing the number of constituencies.
“This is confusion by the PF. There is no way districts can be increased and yet constituencies’ remains the same. What kind of thinking is that? Has Mr Kabimba forgotten that some rural constituencies are vast? It should remain on record that the increase in number of districts calls for an increase in constituencies in order to avoid one constituency sharing two districts,” said Mr. Mutayachalo.
The former MMD provincial official reminded the PF in particular and Zambians in general that democracy was an expensive undertaking which any country willing to go that way should brace itself for.