Electoral Commission of Zambia Chairperson’s Pre Election Statement

Fellow country men and women, I had intended to address the nation tomorrow 10th August 2016 on the eve of the elections but,  I am compelled to do so today because of the extremely sad and  violent clash  that occurred yesterday afternoon between PF and UPND supporters in Mtendere township, here in Lusaka.
Sadly the acts of violence that have characterised the 2016 elections campaigns is unprecedented and has marred Zambia’s historic record of peaceful elections.  The PF and UPND leadership should take full responsibility for the unacceptable behaviour of their cadres and supporters irrespective of who has provoked the violence during the campaigns.
Only last month the Commission had to suspend campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala districts for 10 days on account of violence, and only two weeks ago a commitment was made to the peace pledge by the Presidential candidates.  It is therefore indeed very disheartening and disappointing to have witnessed on television last night, the violence that occurred between PF and UPND supporters with less than 72 hours to go for the elections. 

What is so difficult about respecting each other’s different political affiliation? Where were the police? Were they not aware of the two parties programmes and routing?
I wish to remind the PF leadership that as the ruling party they have the bigger responsibility to lead by example and uphold the peace during the last hours before the polls as well as during and after the polls. Your supporters and cadres must be kept in check. Equally, the UPND leadership should ensure that your supporters and cadres are also under control and do not retaliate. There is absolutely no excuse or justification for violent behaviour. 
I wish to stress that on no account should both PF or UPND supporters and cadres be engaged in further violence otherwise you shall traumatise and discourage the voters who are the most important stakeholders in the elections.  We do not want an electorate who will fear to leave the safety of their homes to go and vote on 11th August, 2016.
Political party leaders should remember that the voter is the most important stakeholder in an election and it is for the voter that elections are conducted and NOT for political parties. An election should not be a do or die affair. It should be about competing for who will be the best choice of leader to be elected by the Zambian people.
I wish to remind the PF and UPND in particular that the world’s eyes are on Zambia and I do not think that either of you will want to go on record as having being the two political parties who contributed to permanently denting Zambia’s record of peaceful elections. All international observer groups that have met the Commission so far have expressed the admiration that the world has of Zambia’s peaceful record and it is something that we should cherish and not lose during this election.
Fellow country men and women, peace once lost in a nation is almost impossible to regain. Therefore, I am making a passionate appeal to you all to uphold our country’s peace in these final hours of the campaigns, on and after election day. The Commission would not want to end campaigns before the official close on 10th August at 18:00 hours should there be a recurrence of violence. I urge you all to be peaceful.
God bless you all and God bless our country

Justice Esau E Chulu


9th August, 2016


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