By: Bright Chikele..
ZAMBIA Air Force’s decision to stop UPND campaign helicopters from flying has angered the opposition party.
In a statement, UPND president Hakainde Hichilema’s campaign advisor Dipak Patel expressed anger that the Electoral Commission of Zambia was silent on the ZAF decision to limit the movements of the party’s campaign team.
“We say to ECZ enough is enough. ECZ is not listening. ECZ is sitting on the fence and gleefully watching our rights to a free campaign being eroded by ZAF. We have been flagging the issue of ZAF and its non-transparent approval process for granting permission to fly helicopters for campaign purposes since January 2016,” Patel said.
“We have had meetings with ECZ, we have sent letters, but to no avail. The question we ask of ECZ is: why are they not making a public statement on this matter? It is situations such as this that ECZ undermines its own credibility by remaining silent.”
He wondered whom the Commission was trying to please if not the voters and all stakeholders.
“Who is ECZ trying to appease by remaining silent? Surely their responsibility is to ensure that the citizens of Zambia have a free and fair election. Our appeals to ECZ are falling on deaf ears. Political parties have been using this means of transport before and we have never had such levels of political interference by ZAF who are supposed to be non-partisan,” Patel said.
“Is ZAF suggesting that if Lungu is campaigning in one town in one Province, then the entire province is a no-go area for an opposition party? Is ZAF saying that HH cannot campaign in Kabwata, if Lungu is campaigning in Chawama?”
He further asked the ZAF commander to resign if at all he wanted to engage himself in active politics.
“ZAF Commander (Lt Gen. Eric Chimese) who has become partisan should resign with immediate effect for his immoral conduct. We would like to remind him that Zambia is not a military state. We are a democracy and we have laws that guide our cherished democracy. Perhaps the ECZ should avail copies of our Constitution, The Electoral Process Act to ZAF Commander who seems to be ignorant of basic rights and freedoms of citizens,” said Patel.