Political Parties told to Maintain Peace in Chilanga

The Electoral Commission of Zambia has urged all political parties taking part in the Chilanga Parliamentary and the six (6) Local Government by-elections to desist from acts of intimidation, hate speech, defamatory language or violence during the campaign period and on the Poll Day scheduled for 5th June, 2018.

The Commission Chairperson, Honourable Mr. Justice Esau Chulu said the expectations included the need for political parties to refrain from clashing, verbal disputes and provocation, which could propel undesirable acts of violence.

“It is highly regrettable that, during the nominations of 3rd May 2018, we experienced failure by political parties to adhere to the electoral regulations set forth in the Electoral Code of Conduct (the Code), to promote a conducive electoral environment. These actions brought about fear and discomfort amongst the minds of people within the Nomination Centre,” said Justice Chulu.

He expressed his disappointment over such conduct which was experienced after commitment to adhere to the resolutions and expectations which the political parties collectively agreed, in the presence of the Church Mother Bodies to abide by, at a meeting held on 30 April 2018 at the Commission.

The Commission reiterated the importance of adherence by the Stakeholder to the Expectations agreed upon by the Church Mother Bodies and Political Parties on Monday, 30th April, 2018 at the Mid-term Evaluation Meeting for the Chilanga Parliamentary and the six (6) Local Government By-Elections.

Justice Chulu was also deeply concerned with the use of hate speech and inflammatory language by political parties. He urged Political Parties to avoid personality attacks on candidates that could lead to provocation during the campaign period and thereafter.

The Commission encouraged all political parties to comply with the Electoral Code of Conduct, failure to which the Commission would have no other recourse but to disqualify the political party/parties or candidate/candidates.
Meanwhile, the Zambia Police have called on the Political parties participating in the by-elections to desist from transporting cadres from other areas into Chilanga Constituency as the practice was a source of conflict and violence.

Speaking during the Stakeholders Meeting, Deputy Inspector General of Police Mr. Malcom Mulenga said that the Zambia Police had observed that most of the times. It was cadres coming from other constituencies who instigated violence.

“The Zambia Police Service will not stand aside and let perpetrators of this anti-social behavior that threaten peace to go unpunished. The Zambia Police Service have put up measures to counter any break down of law and order during the electoral process in Chilanga Constituency and those perpetrators of crime will do so at their own peril. All political parties should refrain from using hate speech in campaigns as this strategy usually results into unnecessary violent confrontations. The Zambian Police expects you to take responsibility and advise your members to exercise maximum restraint when provoked in order to ensure peace and tranquility during these by-elections,” said Mr. Mulenga.

Mr. Mulenga added that political parties play a very significant role in sensitising of political cadres against violence and promotion of peaceful co-existence among stakeholders in the electoral process.

Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) Executive Director Reverend Pukuta Mwanza urged the Political Parties not to have strife and quarrel among themselves for they were brethren, close relatives and Zambians.

He called on Politicians to dialogue together emphasising that there must be a willingness to have room to talk together to forgive, apologize and to confess.

“There is need to rebuild the image of our country and restore peace and harmony,” said Reverend Mwanza.