I finally got round to checking the turnout at recent Parliamentary bye-elections :
Mkushi North : 17%
Kafulafuta : 28%
Chipata : 30%
Solwezi East : 23%
The turnout is shocking. No improvement then since the Kapiri parliamentary bye-election in May were turnout was 15%. That meant 85% of people did not vote. This issue goes beyond party lines. In Ndola we recently saw two ward elections with 4% turn out. That is 96% of people did not turn out to vote. What is the point of such an election?
It is obvious that our poor and voiceless people are suffering from electoral and political fatigue. They don't trust Parliament as an institution. That is why they cannot be bothered to vote. So not only are they poor and voiceless, they also do not have any genuine representatives they believe in.
More importantly by 83% of people refusing to vote in Mkushi North they are secretly posing a larger question . In a very poor country like Zambia, is it morally responsible to spend K6m - K8m on a parliamentary election where 83% of people don't want it? Especially where large costs are going on foreign printed ballots? To that you can add large costs to lost productivity and transport costs by ,members of the Cabinet who went about campaigning.
The low turnout should be interpreted as a vote of no confidence in the electoral process. And who can argue with them? Aside from Chipata which was a legitimate election after a Court nullification process, the other three are acts of political fraud. Greedy parliamentarians with no moral compass switched sides at the expense of the poor. When will it end?
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Chola Mukanga | Economist
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