Zambia dissolves Parly, sets poll date

The announcement starts the race to State House, Parliament and municipalities, which the opposition have welcomed.

Mwanawasa, addressing the nation on television on July 26, said after consultations with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Zambia over the dissolution of parliament and announcing election date, the duo agreed with his suggestion noting that the period was ideal, being a dry season.

“I am satisfied that that the environment is conducive to hold elections on that date as demanded by various players,” he said in a live national address.

He said despite 2006 being an election year, it was imperative for all political players to embrace tolerance and unity of purpose to foster unity in the nation.

Mwanawasa said despite the dissolution of cabinet and other portfolios of ministers, deputies and provincial deputy ministers, he would remain head of state deputised by his vice president until a next republican president was sworn in or until his mandate lapsed on January 1 next year.

He reminded people aspiring for public office at presidential, parliamentary and municipality levels to recognise that their role was service to the nation and not to be masters.

“As we seek public office, we must remember that we are going to solicit for the vote so that we provide service to the Zambian people. Going into office is not to become masters of our people but it is a choice to be servants of the ordinary people.”

Mwanawasa envisions a Zambia united and working together in fighting poverty, corruption, HIV/AIDS malaria, crime and other social vices.

“I would like to see Zambians holding hands across all artificial barriers for we have only one Zambia, one nation that we must jealously guard, protect and emancipate,” he said.

Mwanawasa’s action was taken barely hours after the Lusaka High Court threw out an application by the Law Association of Zambia seeking to restrain the republican president from announcing the date of election claiming this would disadvantage the opposition.

Under the 1991 Electoral Act, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) had absolute authority to set the date of elections with the President merely announcing.

On July 26, Lusaka High Court Judge Japhet Banda ruled that the court was incompetent to grant LAZ an order against the state.

In his ruling Judge Banda noted that the petitioner had conceded that the provision 16 of the State Proceedings Act could not be issued against the President prohibiting him from announcing the date of the elections.

He said a restraining order was not tenable in law in view of section 16 of the State Proceedings Act or under Article 28 of the constitution.

Interlocutory relief and other orders were provided for under various laws and there was no such provision under Article 28 for the court to grant interlocutory order pending hearing and that although the had wide powers, Parliament did not include restraining orders, Judge Banda observed.

Mwanawasa in his address noted that the elections had raised acrimony among players as evidenced by the application raised by LAZ.

He said the announcement was intended to avoid delaying the elections at the expense of the application whose determination would take longer.

The opposition political players said despite the 60-days left, they were ready for battle with the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and President Mwanawasa.

Many have been caught unaware because they have not yet scrutinised and picked presidential, parliamentary and municipality candidates.

All People’s Congress (APC) leader Ken Ngondo said his party is ready for the elections and was currently finalising names of candidates to contest and represent the party at various levels.

“We have been ready for the elections for sometime. We are finalising the list of candidates at various levels and we should be getting on the ground soon,” he said.

Patriotic Front (PF) spokesperson, Elizabeth Chitika Mulobeka said the party was set to battle with other competitors and that they have done enough campaign to warrant their victory under Michael Sata.

“We have been ready since 2001 because we have been campaigning for the party countrywide. We will be announcing names of candidates for parliamentary and local government elections next week,” she said.

National Democratic Focus, an alliance of three political parties said it had no quarrel with the date of elections although it noted that preparations would have been adequate if commenced four years ago.

“We are now ready now because we have a president for the alliance. We are now finalising a list of candidates to contest various positions at parliament and local government levels,” said spokesperson Langton Sichone.

Other political groupings, Reform Party and United Democratic Alliance (UDA), yet to announce their presidential candidates are tipped to contest the elections.

UDA embraces United Party for National Development (UPND), United National Independence Party and Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD).

Analysts have ruled out victory by the opposition political parties because of the disunity that has characterised the groupings in recent months, moreso after the death of UPND leader Anderson Mazoka who masterminded the formation of UDA.

According to Articles 42(2) and (3) of the Zambian Constitution, Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and provincial ministers were appointed from among the Members of Parliament and there being no provision for ministers to continue in office after the dissolution of the National Assembly, Cabinet was subsequently dissolved and the appointments of ministers ceased by operation of the law.

Mwanawasa will continue as President of Zambia in line with the provisions of the law and will be assisted by the Vice-President, Lupando Mwape until the next Republican President is sworn in or until his mandate lapsed by affluxion of time on January 1, 2007.

The Vice President does not necessarily have to be an MP to be appointed.

July 2006
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