Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) welcomes suspension of political campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala districts because of unprecedented levels of violence and intolerance among political players especially between the two major political parties PF and UPND.
This action has been long overdue because of continued violence and other forms of behaviour that violate the electoral code of conduct and other electoral authorities that govern the entire electoral process. It is our hope the suspension will help restore order, peace and unity in the campaigns following violence that was being perpetrated by some political parties.
It is within the powers of the ECZ section 28 (2) of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 where the commission is empowered to suspend campaigns. The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has got adequate powers within its mandate to correct wrongs. Therefore, the ECZ must enforce provisions of the Electoral Process Act firmly and fairly during political campaigns.
FODEP has observed political parties that are perpetrating violence are known widely by various stakeholders including the ECZ itself. Therefore, the ECZ must summon these violent political parties and punish them individually unlike the current situation where campaigns are suspended for all parties including those that are not involved in violence.
FODEP calls for quick finalisations of the Statutory Instrument on the disqualification of political parties or candidates that are abrogating the electoral laws from participating in elections.
Meanwhile, FODEP condemns in the strongest words possible, the shooting of UPND members on 8th July, 2016 in which Mapenzi Chibulo was killed and several others were injured. This happened when the UPND went on an illegal procession after their rally in Lusaka’s Chawama Township was cancelled because of security risks.
The action by the Zambia Police service amounted to excessive force, which was unnecessary. The police are expected to act professionally under such circumstances and to also enforce provisions of the Public Order Act fairly to avoid confrontations with political parties.
We call upon the investigative wings of the government and institutions of democracy such as the Human Rights Commission to immediately and speedily institute a probe into the shooting incident as it is a gross violation of human rights. Particularly, the Human Rights Commission must execute its functions of investigating mal-administration and violation of human rights.
On the other hand, FODEP would also like to advise the UPND against any form of confrontation that endangers the lives of its members. The fracas with the police would have been avoided had the UPND not taken to an illegal procession and fighting with the police.
It is important for political parties to act within the provisions of relevant laws such as the Public Order Act and the Electoral Process Act to avoid conflicts during political campaigns that are taking place across the country.
FODEP would like to reiterate its clarion call for peace, unity and reconciliation during this period of campaigning in order to have general elections that are not only free and fair on August 11, 2016 but also participatory, legitimate, transparent and credible.
It is unnecessary to fight and kill one another just because of an election when we have an opportunity to co-exist and sustain the peace we have enjoyed for over 50 years which was attained at a great cost.
Issued By: FODEP