SPEAKER of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini yesterday told opposition UPND to give the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) an opportunity to complete the bidding process for the printing of ballot papers before casting aspersions on the Commission.
And Dr Matibini said the legal regime enacted by Parliament guaranteed the independence of the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
Rendering his ruling to a point of order raised by Mr Mwiimbu, Dr Matibini said ECZ should not receive directions from any person or authority.
The Speaker explained that the Commission was established as a corporate body.
“It has its own jurisdictional existence and further within the context of that legal regime the body shall not receive any directions from any person or authority,” Dr Matibini said.
He said another provision enacted by this House was the guaranteed or ensured independence of the Electoral Commission of Zambia. “So, it would be inappropriate, granted all that I have said that I should now bring this subject on the floor of this House so that a resolution is secured.”
“This would be the most inappropriate place to resolve an issue of that nature. In any event, we would be judges in our own cause. There would be a contest which would be very difficult to resolve here. In a nutshell, let’s give ECZ an opportunity to a complete the process,” he said.
Dr Matibini said once the process had been completed, and if there would be dissatisfactions, there were other avenues. He said if there would still be dissatisfactions, the other avenue was engaging ECZ, adding that if it failed, the UPND would still invoke the other branch of government.
“That is my ruling!” Dr Matibini said.
Meanwhile, Dr Matibini has directed Vice President Inonge Wina to respond to Mr Mwimbu’s point of order on the part where he directed to the Office of the Vice President.
In his point of order, Mr Mwiimbu said some stakeholders had raised concerns particularly on the printing of ballot papers.
He said ECZ through the Vice President had made members of the general public to start doubting the credibility of the next elections
Mr Mwiimbu told the Speaker earlier that ECZ had raised tension because members of the public felt the process of printing ballot papers was questionable.
“And there is an element of corruption and an element of biasness in this process. Are they in order not to come to this House and make a statement to the nation to justify if there is any justification as to why they should continue awarding this company the contract, and not award a company that is competitive, a company that has always been printing ballot papers for the Election of Zambia?” he asked.
Mr Mwiimbu said the ECZ had complied with the provisions of Article 45 of the laws of Zambia which requires fairness in the electoral process.
But Dr Matibini said he had been following events surrounding the issue and that the discourse was already in public domain both in electronic and print media.
He said based on the information in the public media, the ECZ process for consideration for the bids was ending today.
Dr Matibini said what was important was to ascertain whether there would be an objection or not lodged in the event by the interested parties.
He said the process had not been consummated.
Dr Matibini said assuming that indeed the process had been consummated and there were unsatisfied, a mode of dispute resolutions would be required either through the courts of law (procurement legal regime) or government branches to resolve such disputes.
He said those dissatisfied would still engage the Electoral Commission of Zambia.