Zambia's by-election necessitated by the death of President
Levy Mwanawasa is likely to take place in November this year. But if some
people had their way, acting president Rupiah Banda would be allowed to
complete late President Mwanawasa's term without an election because they
argued holding the special election would be too expensive.
Ruling Movement for
Multiparty Democracy spokesman Benny Tetamashimba was quoted as saying that
there is no need to spend 400 billion Kwacha, about US$114 million to hold the
by-elections when many Zambians had no food to eat.
Goodwill Lungu is executive
director for Transparency International, Zambia. He told VOA that democracy and the constitution must prevail over cost.
totally oppose any maneuver to disregard the constitution. We feel that
democracy is a very expensive venture wherever it has been allowed to go on in
the world. And also the current government, the Movement for Multiparty
Democracy government, is well aware that in the past they have called a lot of
by-elections at parliamentary level, and the government had been able to find
money to ensure that these by-elections go ahead. So we don't see any logic in
the argument that it would be extremely expensive to hold these by-elections,"
said Zambia's opposition progressive political parties and a lot of civil
society organizations, including trade unions and the church are opposed to
what he called the violation of the constitution for an individual's political
rejected a reported proposal by some that there should be an all-inclusive
transitional government to save the country from undertaking the cost of the
said Zambian cabinet ministers and members of parliament recently approved
salary increases for themselves.
doesn't august very well for us that where the government finds it's very convenient
to advance that we should prevent a lot of funds from being wasted they wanted
everyone to follow them. Also ourselves why we are totally opposed to that is
for the simple reason that we know very well that the current government gave
themselves hefty salaries which went to the national assembly, and they were
approved within the quickest possible time, which is simply a demonstration
that actually the resources are there even to hold the election," he said.
reported account put the cost of the upcoming by-elections to around 400
billion Kwachas, or an equivalent of about US$114 million. But Lungu said the
elections should be held as scheduled to send a message to the outside world
course we are talking about quite a lot of money that might go into this
particular election, but as I indicated earlier on, democracy is very
expensive, and there are no two ways or a short cut to avoid this kind of
expenditure. So we do understand very well that it would cost us a lot of
money, and we feel that if we have the interest of Zambia at heart and we want
to respect the constitution, let us go that way because we would providing an
example to the rest of the world that we respect our democracy," Lungu said.