By STEVEN ZANDE -
WESTERN Province Permanent Secretary Sibanze Simuchoba has said dialogue is crucial to nation building and to consolidating democratic gains which Zambia has achieved from independence.
Meanwhile, a 58-year-old Mongu resident has urged Government to consider increasing the presidential tenure from five to 10 years to allow leadership continuity so that the State can complete running projects undisturbed.
Mr Simuchoba said while Zambia was rated highly among stable democracies in Africa, spates of political violence during previous general elections threatened the country’s democratic gains and this required dialogue in resolving differences among the people.
“The work of the Commission is an important step in inculcating democratic tenets in our country,” he said.
He said this at the Country Lodge in Mongu yesterday when he officially opened a Commission of Inquiry into Electoral Violence and Voting Patterns public sitting.
Mr Simuchoba said there was need to investigate causes of electoral violence and bloc voting patterns as the trend was a threat to Zambia’s budding democracy.
He said an urgent solution should be found to enable people vote for their preferred leaders without fear of being hacked or victimised on account of political affiliation.
Mr Simuchoba said the Commission of Inquiry which had been constituted at a cost to the taxpayer could be successful if residents presented factual and balanced evidence because this would help Commissioners recommend practical solutions in the final report.
Meanwhile, a Mongu resident, Wambinji Mukitisi said Government should consider raising the presidential tenure to 10 years, saying this would allow Government start and complete projects for the benefit of the people.
Mr Mukitisi said five year terms were not enough for the Government to implement projects and meet people’s needs, especially that when change of government had in some instances resulted in projects stalling.
He said the cost of staging an election was enormous and introducing 10 year terms could save the State a huge sums of money which could be invested in other needy areas.
Cases of political violence which had been recorded in the recent past could be blamed on opposition leaders who refused to accept the outcome of elections.
Eugene Kapatisa, a 38-year-old local herbalist said the voting patterns which were recorded in Mongu reflected people’s wishes and this had resulted from unfulfilled election promises by successive Government administrations.