By MAIMBO MWEEMBA
The Electoral Commission (ECZ) has suspended with immediate effect all manner of political campaigns by both the ruling Patriotic Front and opposition United Party for National Development.
This is as provided for in article 229, sub article 2 (e) of the Republican constitution and sub paragraphs 4 (1) (C)) (D) (I) and 1 1 (D) of the electoral code of conduct, this was due to political violence that was reported in Lusaka, Namwala, Mpulungu and Nakonde districts.
ECZ Chief Executive Officer Patrick Nshindano said the suspension will be reviewed after 14 days, and that the affected secretary generals will be written too informing them of this decision.
“Sadly the commission has observed the continued disregard of the electoral code of conduct by the PF and the UPND, despite their leaders swearing oath to keeping the code of conduct, this disregard led to escalating electoral violence in Lusaka, Mpulungu, Namwala and Nakonde.
“In this regard the concerned political parties will not be allowed to conduct any forms of campaigns and all media houses are advised not cover the two political parties in the said jurisdictions,’’ he said.
Mr Nshindano reiterated that media houses are not supposed to cover the PF and the UPND in Namwala, Lusaka, Mpulungu and Nakonde only.
He said that commission will be working with relevant agencies to ensure adherence.
“This exempts all paid for adverts, as we know that they carter for all jurisdictions, but ensure that you the media houses do not cover any political activities in the mentioned districts,” he said.
Mr Nshindano said in the same vain, the Zambia police should not allow any political activities by the affected parties in the said districts.
“The commission has additionally suspended all political parties’ roadshows across the country, including independent candidates, as the findings on the ground have revealed that not only are the road shows in breach of Covid-19 guidelines but political parties have merely converted the road shows into mobile rallies, thereby ignoring all guidelines that were given to them.
“The commission was very categorical when presenting the guidelines to the political parties and we did indicate that all activities were to be in contact with minimal crowds, which has not been the case” he said.
Mr Nshindano said that the country has continued to record cases of the coronavirus, which has led to treating centers to be fully packed with infected people.
“As a commission we expected that our leaders will take the lead and safeguard the lives of the citizens, but was not the case, which is extremely unfortunate,” he said.
Mr Nshindano said that the commission has the obligation to safeguard the lives of the Zambians by ensuring that the environment does not deteriorate to levels of electoral misconduct.
“We have noted with dismay that the road shows are being used to instigate violence, breach of the electoral code of conduct which is characterized by pulling down of campaign materials and instilling fear in members of the general public, campaigns are meant to give hope to the public through the sharing of campaign messages and not manning of each and public disorder,” he said.
He said that Commission has also restricted to a maximum of three members of any political party or independent candidates per household to conduct door to door campaigns and one vehicle for the public address campaigns.
Mr Nshindano said political parties and independent candidates are also reminded that it is unlawful to place campaign posters on private property.
“The Commission would like to encourage all political players to be tolerant and promote coexistence, and will not condone lawlessness regardless of the political party perpetrating violence,” he said.
Mr Nshindano further disclosed that ECZ is in the process of preparing accreditation for stakeholders who would like to monitor the printing of ballot papers in Dubai.