Zambia’s President Rupiah Banda on July 28 2011 finally announced September 20 as the election date following his signing of a statutory instrument to dissolve parliament.
After the parliament was adjourned sine die on June 24, rumblings started rising from the opposition, civic organisations and citizens with everyday that went on without the president announcing a date. There has been debate in the country to have a fixed election date instead of depending on the whims and caprices of a sitting president who is allowed under the Electoral Act to announce the date.
But one Zambian blogger, Mazuba Mwiinga, argues that President Banda’s predecessor, the late President Levy Mwanawasa , indirectly fixed the election date.
Levy was such a clever President and sharp lawyer. Don’t you think so? Intelligently he told (former Finance Minister, Ng’andu) Magande to fix the period when the National Budget should be presented in Parliament. And the set up believe me you; dictate that general elections must always be held before October of an election year.
Wonder shouldn’t be at your neck. According to the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 20 of 2009, Article 117 (1) states that, “The Minister responsible for finance shall, subject to clause (2), cause to be prepared and laid before the National Assembly, not later than the second Friday of October, before the commencement of the next financial year, estimates of revenue and expenditure of the Government for the financial year”;
It simply means that by the second week of October, Government must present its budget for the following year in Parliament every year.
Clause 2 is a blanket clause that gives a lee way to a new government to relax and get prepared. But Clause 3 of Article 117 is the focal point on which an election period stands. It restricts the rules of this game. It states that, “The National Assembly shall, subject to clause (2), approve the budget not later than the thirty first day of December”.
Elsewhere, Zambian netizens welcomed the date with mixed reactions.
Writing on the Lusaka Times [the site does not have links for individual comments], MMD Chief Bootlicker says:
Game on. Finish all your interviews in your homes and lets have the real battle . Let the battle for truth and destiny for Zambia begin. We are ready and our well oiled machine is already up to speed.
Indeed let the battle begin
Taking the fight to the opposition, zedian Umusasa says:
The Opposition have been calling for it, and he has given it to them, less than 2 months away.
Most have not even announced lists of parliamentary candidates!!!!
Lets hear them complain , again!!
Without stating his preference, but clearly siding with the opposition, Teza Chirwa says:
We cant go on, troding the same path and expect different results. The bembas [a Zambian ethnic group] say –”umwana ashenda atashiya nyina uku nayia bwaili” [he that does not travel wide thinks his mother is the best cook]
Throwing in a bit of dark humour about victory by PF president Michael Sata who is known to suffer from heart complications, POMPIDU says:
Unfortunately either way, Mr Sata will have a heart attack. If he wins he will have a heart attack in disbelief. If he loses he will have a heart attack because he will understand that that would be his last chance and the end of his dream. Are we willing to take chances for another by-election. Vote wisely. Either RB (Rupiah Banda) or HH (UPND president Hakainde Hichilema).
There was no much difference on the comments on the Zambian Watchdog.
A contributer who seemed to be an MMD supporter, Muzo 4 rb writes [the site does not have links for individual comments]:
viva rb. now whts pf going to complain about?am sure it has caught them unaware! let them give us the list of their mps. these pf characters have no game plan non whts so ever!
surely the end of sata has come! he and his chaps will be finally forgotten for good! chweeechweeechweee
Another one who seemed to be a UPND supporter KANYEMBO writes:
Thanks Mr. President But the hour for your departure is nearing. The Young Man HH is coming in with new blood. VIVA HH 20HH
Sata whose party was the second largest party in the just dissolved parliament, does not equally lack supporters. SHAMROCK writes:
PA PWATO LELO (on the boat, the PF symbol, today) VIVA SATA
One contributor, Rooney, calls for a televised debate for the presidential hopefuls:
It is high time, people to debate issue that affect our country. We need these three presidential candidates namely,HH, SATA and RB to debate live on Tv so that voters can choose suitable candidate to be president of zed. Let not insult and stop issuing tribal comments to each other. Tribal remarks will not take us anywhere. Let be objective.
As the countdown to the elections begins, it is now a wait see game before Zambians know who takes over the instruments of power in the next seven weeks.