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The elections are usually preceded by series of public political activities such as campaigns with a view of according every political party taking part in the election an opportunity to reach out to the electorate.
With the foregoing, our resolve as the Zambia Police Service is to ensure that we provide an environment conducive for all political parties participating in the forthcoming elections to conduct their scheduled activities in a peaceful environment. However, this cannot be possible if political players do not commit themselves to conducting peaceful political activities. I am, therefore, urging the leadership of all political parties at all levels to take a lead in preaching peace to their supporters.
Political parties are also advised to submit their campaign schedules to respective regulating officers without undue delay so as to allow the police come up with a consolidated plan of all expected political activities. This is with a view of avoiding clashes between political players as well as complaints on unfair treatment in the application of the Public Order Act.
As political parties commence campaigns in a few days’ time, my advice is for all of them taking part in the elections to observe provisions of the law as well as electoral regulations that guide the conduct of political players some of them being the electoral code of conduct, Electoral Process Act and other relevant legislations.
In previous elections, we had experienced occurrences where some cadres were deliberately provoking members of opposing political parties by straying into their camps or public gatherings which in most instances resulted in public order disturbance. I am warning those with such tendencies that police shall not hesitate to arrest them if found wanting. It should be understood that section 26 of the Electoral Process Act criminalises such conduct.
Furthermore, pulling down, defacing or destroying other political party’s campaign materials is criminal and shall not be condoned.
Political leaders at various levels should play their role of educating their cadres against engaging themselves in acts that may trigger violence.
All political parties should conduct constructive and issue based campaigns devoid of hate speech, inciting violence or violence. Political activities should be focused on presenting political parties respective manifestos to the electorate and leave it to the electorate to exercise their constitutional right of choosing their preferred leaders without coercion.
Zambia has been on record to have conducted peaceful elections in the past, a clear indication that, even in the coming elections, we can accomplish a violence free election. Political players should appreciate the need for co-existence by exercising high levels of tolerance for divergent views and avoid engaging themselves in provocative behaviour.
It should be understood that every citizen of this country has got a responsibility to see to it that peace, law and order prevails during the whole electoral process. Peace cannot be attained through violent means but through peaceful means.
My call is for everyone involved in the elections to exercise maximum restraint and embrace peace before, during and after elections.
The Zambia Police Service, being an institution charged with a constitutional mandate of maintaining law and order, has made adequate preparations for effective policing of the forth coming elections which include training of police officers in policing elections, Investigation of electoral offences, Intelligence gathering as well as Crowd management and control. We have also trained members of Community Crime Prevention Units with a view of utilising a community policing concept to avert violence before, during and after elections.
My command has adopted an open door policy to enable all stakeholders in the electoral process to seek redress in matters that may affect them during and after the election period.
We are deploying a sufficient number of police officers to police elections and we are assuring all stakeholders in the electoral process of their maximum protection.
INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE
Issued on 11TH MAY, 2021