Only those convicted can be barred from contesting – ECZ

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THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says it can only disallow a person from participating in an election upon receiving evidence of a conviction on a corrupt or illegal practice from the registrar of the High Court.
ECZ director Priscilla Isaacs said the Commission can only bar a person from participating in an election when a report of corruption of that particular person has been furnished to the Commission by the registrar of the High Court in line with the provisions of Section 104 of the Electoral Act.
Mrs Isaacs said in an advertisement that up to date, ECZ has not received any report required by the law to enable it disallow someone from participating in an election.
“ECZ would like to clarify the concern raised by Transparency International Zambia (TIZ). This pertains to a letter written to the commission and media reports in which TIZ has stated that ECZ has remained silent in applying Section 22 of the Electoral Act of 2006.
“The section in question states that any person who is convicted of any corrupt practice or illegal practice or who is reportedly guilty of any corrupt practice or illegal practice by the High Court upon the trial of an election petition under this Act shall not be qualified for an election as member of the National Assembly for a period of five years from the date of conviction or of the report as the case maybe,” she said.
Mrs Isaacs said Section 22 should be read in tandem with Section 104 sub-sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Electoral Act, which prescribe the manner in which the High Court reports persons found guilty of illegal and corrupt practices.
“The registrar shall deliver a copy of every report prepared by the High Court under subsection 6 to the commission and Director of Public Prosecutions. The commission shall, soon as it receives the report under subsection 7 instruct an officer to prosecute any person stated in the report,” she said.
Mrs Isaacs urged all stakeholders to familiarise themselves with the provisions of the Electoral Act, Electoral Code of Conduct and other laws that govern the conduct of elections in the country before making accusations against ECZ.
Meanwhile, Open Society Foundation executive director Sunday Chanda has demanded that the registrar of the High Court should issue a comprehensive statement on the matter.
Mr Chanda said in a statement yesterday that failure by the registrar of the High Court to issue a statement on the matter will cast a dark cloud over the judiciary and will go to prove why reforms in the judiciary are needed.
“The judiciary is an important institution in upholding, among other things, electoral integrity and we find it unbelievable that to this date, the registrar of the High Court has remained mute,” Mr Chanda said.
He called on Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to instruct the registrar of the High Court to show respect for the law and issue a comprehensive statement on the matter.

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