Sean Tembo


By Sean Tembo – PeP President

1. Our road to get on the presidential ballot has been long and tough. Much tougher than l thought actually. It all started with the funny requirement for presidential aspirants to physically take 100 of their supporters to the provincial centers for registration. I have always argued and l will argue again here that there is no need for the supporters to be physically taken to registration Centre’s when a list can suffice. Those who are not on the ground might not fully understand but physically taking these supporters to a registration center is a cumbersome issue because of a number of factors such as the time window of 90 minutes in which it has to be done. That means if you have a vehicle breakdown or other delay, you can easily be knocked out. Additionally, people might not know this but this adoptions and nominations period is the busiest for political parties because of the limited timeframe and need to comply with a myriad of requirements. In fact this period is busier than the campaign period because you have 90 days for official campaigns which means that you can be on the ground for two weeks continuously and then take a rest for a day or two with your family. But this adoptions and nominations period has no room for rest. And then in the middle of such a busy time we must add another unnecessary project of ferrying people to provincial ECZ Centres?

2. Anyway, so l decided to challenge the matter in court. We filed court process on a Friday and given the urgency of the matter, we attached a Certificate of Urgency because the ECZ decision that we were challenging was to be implemented beginning the following Wednesday. However, despite the certificate of urgency the matter had not been allocated 4 days later! My understanding of an urgent matter is that once it is filed in the Registry it needs to be immediately taken to Judge in Charge for allocation and a possible hearing immediately convened. But this was not to be. So by the following Tuesday l decided to follow it up with the Chief Marshal and l was notified that the problem that was there is that all the judges were attending an ECZ workshop on how to quickly deal with election disputes. How ironic that a workshop on how to quickly deal with election disputes actually prevented an election dispute from being quickly dealt with!! My understanding is that for an urgent matter a judge can be retrieved from a workshop or any other engagement and can even be woken up at midnight. That is the practice l know in terms of administration of justice across the world, except Zambia of course. By the following Wednesday morning, l had given up on my court application because other political parties had already started physically taking their supporters to the provincial ECZ offices and so the matter was overtaken by events. I was shocked when around midday l was called to go and collect a ruling on the matter from Court. I did not expect much from the ruling given that events had already overtaken the recourse that l sought from Court and for sure, the ruling was not much. I personally do not have a problem accepting court rulings or judgements. I know that they are not scientific in nature and are driven by opinions. But there is a basic expectation that l have on every judgement or ruling that l get; that each of my submitted arguments have been duly considered and addressed. You cannot submit 5 arguments and the ruling only addresses two of them. What about the other three? Does the court agree or disagree with them? If it agrees then your application should be upheld. If it does not then the court must explain in the ruling or judgement why it does not agree with your submitted arguments. But to simply cherry-pick which submitted arguments to address in the ruling is not justice in my view. Suffice to mention that as a nation, we need to improve our administration of justice because currently it is a joke.

3. So after failing to get legal redress on the issue of physically ferrying presidential supporters, we decided to just comply with the requirement. We immediately activated our people on the ground in the provinces and arranged the necessary resources for transport and refreshments. When our day came this last Friday, the process had its own challenges but we succeeded in all the provinces. Surprisingly our greatest challenges were in Lusaka where l was personally coordinating the activities, after sending my senior party officials in some provinces where we felt the people on the ground were quite disorganized. Instead of getting all the 100 people from a single constituency or ward, l decided that l wanted them to be representative of the various districts in Lusaka province. And that was part of the mistake that l made. The van that was bringing people from Kafue broke down somewhere along the way. The bus that was bringing our supporters from Chongwe had a puncture and the driver could not find the key to the locknut. It was carrying 20 supporters also. I had gotten 10 supporters from each of the 7 constituencies of Lusaka being Munali, Lusaka Central, Kabwata, Chawama, Kanyama, Matero and Mandevu and these were already waiting at the party secretariat opposite Mulungushi International Conference Centre where the registration was to take place. The time was 12:15 and our window was up to 13:30hrs. So l just decided to activate our nearest structures in Kaunda Square Stage 1 and immediately sent a small bus to pick up the supporters but it was an 18 seater so it needed to make two trips. We started the registration process and the KSQ1 team delivered the first group of 18 supporters and we were only remaining with 30 minutes by the time it was leaving Mulungushi to go and pick up the last group.

4. At that time, l was sweating everywhere. I even wished l had told the staff at the Secretariat to carry their NRCs and Voters Cards. I made a few frantic phone calls to some of my friends and only three showed up. Understandably so because many people do not carry their NRCs and Voters Cards on them at all times. I personally don’t. I kept frantically calling the KSQ1 team to find out how far they were and they told me they’re at Munali Mall coming back, l looked at the time and there was 7 minutes remaining! I started contemplating how it would look that all the provinces have delivered successfully except for Lusaka, which was being coordinated by the President himself? I said a little prayer and just as l was saying “Amen”, l saw a group of about 20 supporters trooping into Mulungushi on foot.

I immediately recognized the PeP Kafue District Chairlady leading Amai Moyo leading the group. For a moment l was puzzled. I thought to myself; did these people walk all the way from Shimabala tollgate where the canter broke down from or what? I had no time to ask and quickly ushered her and her entourage inside. The time was 13:27hrs, barely 3 minutes before our time was up.

The ECZ official then told me that the registration team had decided to have an early short lunch but they will attend to us in 20 minutes time. I then took the opportunity to rush to Eastpark Mall and buy some lunch for my people. While trying to figure out how many portions of food to buy, l was told that the Chongwe team had also made it to Mulungushi, after sorting out their Tyre puncture and also our Mandevu and Ngwerere backup teams whom l had activated in panic had also now arrived at Mulungushi. So l bought 200 portions of lunch from Pick n Pay, helped my Driver to load in my Landcruiser and we headed back to Mulungushi. By the time l was getting there, the remaining presidential supporters had already been processed so l asked my people to walk across the road to our Secretariat for some well deserved lunch. I asked my people to form an orderly queue, one for the ladies and another for men and l personally distributed the food. After l was sure that everyone had gotten their portion, there was only one portion left and me and my Driver decided to share it. As l sat under a tree enjoying my lunch and surrounded by my people as they enjoyed theirs, l had the greatest feeling that l’ve ever had since l decided to serve the people and become a politician about 4 years ago. As l reflected on the day’s events and as the adrenaline wore off, l felt a ting of suspicion inside me that someone powerful out there was intent on making me fail in doing this small task in Lusaka. I do not believe in coincidences. But the good thing is that my crisis management skills were put to a test and l passed with flying colors. Indeed, Wa Msegede Salema.

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SET 16.05.2021


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