Commission Confers with Chiefs

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has observed with sadness the escalating levels of intolerance among political players and has appealed to the Traditional Leaders to avoid engaging themselves in acts and behaviours, which were likely to lead to anarchy in the country.

Speaking during the official opening of the Traditional Leaders meeting held in Itezhi Tezhi on 18th August, 2017, Commissioner Honourable Mr Justice Christopher Mushabati said that political players had blatantly disregarded the provisions of the electoral laws with impunity.

The Traditional leaders meeting was officially opened in Lavushimanda by the Provincial Local Government Officer Mr Adam Jere, in Kachibiya by the District Electoral Office Brayson Kauchindu opened the meeting. In Lunte the District Electoral Officer Mr Mwansa Mfula opened the meeting and read the speech on behalf of the Commission on the same day in the presence of Provincial Local Government Officer, Mr Alfred Nyambose.

Justice Mushabati said the Commission resolved to enhance interaction with stakeholders and members of the public to ensure understanding and appreciation of the Electoral Process and in the long run it was hoped that there will be more adherence to all electoral laws by everybody.

He added that many times, traditional leaders have been accused of intimidating, threatening, coercing or persuading their subjects to act in a particular way politically.

“Other traditional leaders have been heard openly supporting particular political parties or candidates. You ought to treat all political players equally as your children without discrimination of any kind,” said Justice Mushabati.

Regulation 14 of the Electoral code of Conduct of the Electoral process Act No. 35 of 2016 prohibits any individual or organization from teasing or intimidating another person during campaigns, public debates or elections. This provision includes among others, traditional leaders, Chiefs, Village Headmen or Headwomen.

Further, article 168 of the Constitution of Zambia Chapter One of the Laws of Zambia forbids Chiefs from joining or participating in partisan politics. It reads: A chief who seeks to hold office in a political party or election or appointment to a state, except that of Councilor, shall abdicate the Chiefs throne.

The Commission appealed to traditional leaders who attended the meeting to avoid taking an active part in the campaigns or to openly support any particular candidate or particular party participating in the said elections.

The Commission implored the traditional leaders to see to it that their subjects were law abiding citizens who respect other people’s opinions.

“Difference of opinions, be political or otherwise, should never be allowed to cause divisions among your people,” said Justice Mushabati.

He said holding of an election must not be a source of violence, hatred or indeed any other vices.
“We have only one country Zambia, which we should guard jealously” said Justice Mushabati.

He also urged traditional leaders,

who were registered as voters in Itezhi-Tezhi District to ensure that they turn up to vote for the candidates of their choice in the fourth coming by elections together with their subjects.

He made this appeal through traditional leaders to all other traditional leaders and their subjects where similar elections were going to be held in the country.
He also encouraged the traditional leaders to freely interact with Commission Officers conducting the meeting and seek clarification from them, on all issues pertaining to elections that they may not clearly understand.

It was for this reason that this meeting was convened by the Commission to ensure that Royal Highnesses and other Traditional Leaders may understand their role in observing the Electoral Code of Conduct, which is now part of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016.

The polls took place on Thursday, 14th September, 2017 for District Council Chairperson’s elections in Itezhi Tezhi, Kanchibiya, Lavushimanda and Lunte districts. On the same date, the Commission also conducted eight (8) Local Government by-elections in Chililalila, Chitwi, Luansobe, Luntomfwe, Libonda, Mpidi Kakonga, Chimanja and Mabinga wards were held.


For this and more stories read the ECZ Monthly of October, 2017