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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

MMD Manifesto: Electoral Reforms

Electoral reform is one of the key issues facing Zambia. We have long argued that for Zambia to develop it needs to devise systems that diminishes the role of leaders to act as rent seekers. Currently many of our leaders govern purely to enlarge their pockets. Until we introduce processes that prevent them from doing so we won’t see meaningful development. Related to that it needs institutions that allow ordinary Zambians to be able to kick out incompetent and shallow leaders. These requirements are best fulfilled through development of contestable and credible electoral arrangements. Until the electoral machinery is more contestable and leaders can be hired and fired easily, corruption and malpractice will continue unabated. It is therefore very important that not only do we continue to strive for a better voting system, but also ensure that that what ever system is in place, it is managed properly and without malpractice. For these reasons, we regard proposals in this as extremely vital.

What are the main specific policy proposals?

The MMD has no specific policy section on “electoral” reforms. However, it has a small section that mildly touches on this:

“The MMD government will ensure that the process started in 2007 to review and enact a new constitution and reform the electoral system is brought to its logical conclusion. This will culminate in the enactment of a new constitution, necessary supportive legal and institutional frameworks and ensuring that elections continue to be held in a free and fair atmosphere”. (Section 7.1)

Scattered elsewhere is self congratulatory message on how the MMD has increased “voter participation by eligible Zambians” by adopting the “the Electoral Act 2006 recommendation by the Electoral Reform and Technical Committee for the continuous registration of voters and use of transparent ballot boxes”.

What is the rationale?

No problems have been identified.

What is our main assessment?

The MMD’s only promise is that “elections [will] continue to be held in a free and fair atmosphere”, whatever that means. The manifesto has absolutely no new policies whatsoever. MMD evidently has no plans to reform the nature and administration of elections. It does not acknowledge any deficiencies with the current electoral process. The electorate therefore cannot be sure of what MMD intends to do in this area. It has no commitments. Right now MMD is not pledging anything that you could hold them to.

No policy diagnosis. No commitments. No vision for the future.

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Zambian Economist is currently reviewing manifestos of leading political parties in Zambia. All posts in this ongoing review can be found at Manifesto Analysis.

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