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Friday, 8 February 2013

Fixing bye-elections

Two more bye-elections are coming - and many more to come! The Supreme Court last week nullified the election of two MMD MPs for electoral malpractice. 

Kapiri Mposhi MP Lawrence Zimba had won the High Court case but his opponent appealed to the Supreme Court, resulting in the removal of the MP. Judge Gregory Phiri said the High Court misdirected itself when it held that there were no electoral malpractices. Mr Zimba was present when Thandiwe Banda was distributing money to groups of women and was also actively involved in the distribution of money. More importantly the Judge said that it is was not necessary to establish that the majority of voters were not prevented from voting for a candidate of their choice. Simply preventing a few voters is electoral malpractice resulting in nullification. Lukulu West MP Misheck Mutelo had appealed to the Supreme Court after his election was nullified by the High Court last year. Supreme Court judge Elizabeth Muyovwe upheld the High Court’s decision to nullify the election on grounds of electoral malpractices.

These are great judgements which uphold the rule of law. There are many more bye-elections coming once the Supreme Court finishes off the appeals. More losses for MMD are coming. The MMD has only itself to blame for its brazen corruption and the impunity it treated the electoral code. Justice is now being done. And so it should be - for it is clear to many who observed the 2011 elections that they were NOT free or fair. The international bodies once who passed them as such, now hide in quietly in shame.

But we have a bigger problem : Mr Mutelo and Mr Zimba have for the last year been eating money that they should not eat. They have received gratuities and allowances at huge cost to taxpayers even though they got there through electoral malpractice. There's something wrong here. The verdicts do not deliver full justice to the Zambian people. A better outcome would be for Mr Mutelo and Mr Zimba to pay back the money to the Zambian people. More importantly there must be compensation to the other candidates too. They lost out on application fees, campaign money, etc. All due to the electoral corruption of these two people. Now those candidates have to pay again to re-contest the seats. That is not fair. We the people also lose by funding yet more bye-elections. This is not acceptable. We are losing out by letting politicians get away with this!

What is the solution? Simple: we need to change the incentives. If an MP has lost a seat through electoral malpractice, they must be made to pay back the money to tax payers and be asked to compensate. I submit that this will fix the problem. The MPs are currently not paying the full external cost of their electoral corruption. If we made the pay, they will stop being corrupt. Fix the incentive, fix the problem. MPs wont go for this solution. We the people must demand it.


  1. This is a brilliant idea, but why is it not in place already? Surely electoral malpractice is criminal and once found guilty of this one cannot profit financially?

    What is the obstacle here? Does this law not exist? Are there relevant loopholes? Or are people not being held accountable?

  2. It should cut both ways. Those who bribe and induce opposition MPs to join them in their looting should be billed for the by elections they prompt. The guy who accepted a diplomatic post in exchange for giving way to Masebo in Chongwe should be in jail including the person who sent him into diplomatic service. Your suggestions would have been taken seriously if they weren't so one sided and a cheap hitjob at the MMD. Look at the nonsense that your PF is engaged in now with the never ending bribes and expanding bureaucracy with the attendant bye- elections!


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