FRANCIS LUNGU, Lusaka
TOMORROW all eyes will be on the Lusaka mayoral race. Who becomes the mayor of the greater city of Lusaka from nine candidates vying for the vacant position?The Lusaka mayoral seat fell vacant following the death of Wilson Kalumba, who died in office in May this year.
As the electorate in Lusaka are lining up to choose a new mayor, other voters across the country are doing the same to vote in by-elections for their respective councillors and council chairpersons.
Of course the main focus is on the Lusaka mayoral election, which has come two years after the first executive mayor, Mr Kalumba of the PF, was voted into office in the August 11, 2016 election.
There were eight candidates in the last mayoral election with four standing as independents.
From those who sought the mayoral office in the last election, only opposition United National Independence Party (UNIP) candidate Reverend Alfred Banda is standing again in tomorrow’s election.
History of the Lusaka mayoral race dates back to 1954 when the first mayor was installed and the term of office was one year but the office-bearer could be re-elected without any limit.
This was the case until 1980 when the Local Government Act was repealed and replaced by the Local Administration Act of 1980.
From 1980, there existed governors who replaced mayors as civic leaders appointed by the head of State and whose term of office was at the pleasure of the appointing authority.
For the first time, the governor was entitled to a salary, whereas in the previous arrangement the office-bearer received an allowance.
Governors had previously operated from central government offices at district level but from 1980, they moved into councils.
The Local Administration Act of 1980 was again repealed by the Local Government Act number 22 of 1991.
The Act reintroduced the office of the mayor in cities and municipal councils across the country. The term of office was still one year and the mayor was elected into office by councillors as was the case before 1980.
The holder of the office did not receive a salary but an allowance and the term of office was still one year but one could only serve two terms.
Later, the term of office was increased to two years and the office-bearer could serve only one term.
The Constitutional Amendment Act No 2 of 2016 now guides the process of the election of a mayor by all registered voters within a district.
Following the amendment of the Constitution, the office-bearer is now entitled to serve a five-year term and may seek re-election at the end of the first term.
The full list of the candidates in this Lusaka mayoral election is as follows:
Madalitso Musukwa – United Prosperous and Peaceful Zambia;
Lesley Chikuse – Republic Progressive Party;
Mundia Mukubesa – People’s Alliance for Change;
Saboi Imboela – National Democratic Congress;
Miles Sampa – PF;
Dr Saviour Chishimba – United Progressive Party;
Kangwa Chileshe – United Party for National Development;
Denis Bwalya – National Restoration Party; and
Rev. Banda of UNIP, who polled 2,854 votes in the 2016 mayoral election.
The nine candidates will be soliciting votes from about 840,000 registered voters in Lusaka.
In the 2016 general elections, of the total registered, 464,615 people voted in the mayoral election, representing 55.38 percent.
The late Mr Kalumba amassed 270,161 votes to win the seat, followed by his closest rival, the UPND’s and former First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa, who got 150,807 votes.
This is the first time Zambia is witnessing a mayoral by-election, as before the Constitution Amendment of 2016 and before the August 11, 2016 polls, a mayor was elected by councillors.
Even in the case of the office of the mayor falling vacant, the mandate to fill the position was left in the hands of the councillors to vote from amongst themselves.
The eligible registered voters of Lusaka have been once again called upon to make a decision on who will lead them and possibly address an assortment of both social and economic challenges Lusaka is faced with.
The campaigns have been characterised by a new approach of roadshows by almost all the nine candidates who have availed themselves to represent the people of Lusaka.
As the die is cast, the new mayor is expected to address an array of problems the capital, Lusaka, is grappling, with such as erratic water supply and poor waste management, among others.
Political skirmishes involving political cadres from rival camps have been a source of concern, compelling the ruling PF and opposition UPND to commit themselves to a peaceful co-existence through a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
Stakeholdes have since commended the two political parties for the move to stem political violence which may cause voter apathy and disfranchise many if it was not dealt with.
Support to Older People (STOP-Zambia) executive director Daniel Banda said political violence has a disproportionate impact on older people and the physically challenged in so many ways.
He said it causes extreme mental, emotional and physical harm to individuals advanced in age and those living with disabilities and their families.
“Older people shy away from participating since they consider themselves as defenceless and highly vulnerable. However, what the PF and the UPND have done is a good thing. We need to see all political parties denounce violence in all forms during and after the election,” said Mr Banda.
The campaigns are winding up today at around 18:00 hours and tomorrow polling stations will open for voters to cast their ballots and decide who their mayor will be.
At the same time, voters in Chasefu, Chipangali, Kasenengwa, Lumezi and Lusangazi districts – all in Eastern Province – will be choosing their council chairpersons.
FRANCIS LUNGU, Lusaka