President Banda has formally dissolved the cabinet and parliament. Elections will be on Tuesday, 20 September. This period of 8 weeks of campaigns is substantially shorter than the usual convention of 12 weeks. Although the Constitution says elections should be held within "90 days of dissolution of parliament", previous presidents and all well meaning Zambians have always taken 90 days as the minimum. Indeed that was actually what happened in the bye-election. Mr Banda should have announced the date 4 weeks ago instead of going around the country campaigning and allowing Dora Siliya to travel to London on taxpayers' money. As I write she is touring Oxford Street and jumping on the "London eye" after her presentation at Chatham House today. Be as it may, we are here now. So, what should Zambians expect between now and the election date, as far as functioning of government is concerned?
We expect ministers to vacate government cars and houses. We expect ministerial security to be withdrawn from them. We expect them to handover their keys. They are no longer on our payroll for the next 8 weeks. We expect the plunder of national resources will be kept to the minimum and the police and the judiciary will be efficient in dealing with any abuse. We expect a full purdah period where no announcements will be made to win political mileage. We expect the non-political machinery of government to run the affairs of the country, with the President and VP maintaining ceremonial roles unless matters of national security arise. We expect state media particularly ZANIS, ZNBC, Daily Mail and Times of Zambia, to abandon their shameless partisanship and cover all political parties fairly. Finally, we expect the leading opposition figures, principally Mr Sata and Mr Hichilema to be briefed on economic and security issues. Should one of them win, we wouldn't want them to start with zero information, would we now?
The full speech by President is set out below.
Presidential Speech - Dissolution of National Assembly - July 2011