The Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) has commended Zambia police officers for fairly applying the Public Order Act during the Katuba by-election campaigns.
FODEP Executive Director MacDonald Chipenzi said from FODEP’s observation, no political party was denied permission to hold any rally throughout the campaign period.
Mr. Chipenzi said in a statement that the general peace that has been observed and experienced in Katuba is a sign that those who were mandated to maintain law and order at public meetings and processions did so fairly.
He said the deployment of about 200 police officers to the area could also have had a contributory effect to the peace that was experienced in the area.
Mr. Chipenzi however said his organisation was incensed by the police’s summoning of Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ) candidate Patricia Mwashingwele at the heat of campaigns over a case purportedly committed two years ago.
He described this development as unfortunate, saying the police should have scrutinised Ms. Mwashingwele’s status before her nomination or they should have waited until after the election.
The FODEP chief said this act alone showed signs of political victimisation on Ms. Mwashingwele.
He suggested that in future, serious scrutinisation of candidates should be done prior to nomination.
Mr. Chipenzi further stated that as much as it was the role of the police to enforce the law, the timing of the summons on Ms. Mwashingwele was wrong.
He said the police should be professional, ethical and able to read the times and this can be done by exercising patience on matters of this nature to avoid people misinterpreting their actions.
And Mr. Chipenzi has meanwhile commended all political parties participating in the Katuba by-election for exhibiting high levels of inter-party tolerance which consequently resulted in the general peace characterising the campaigns.
He however regretted that political party rallies were mostly devoid of messages targeted at addressing the needs and interest of the people of Katuba.
He noted that instead, political party presidents focused more of their energies on attacking each other as if it was a presidential race.
Mr. Chipenzi said political party leaders should in future by-elections, focus their messages on addressing the needs of the given constituencies.
The Katuba by-election takes place tomorrow, February 25, 2014 to fill up a parliamentary seat that fell vacant in December 2013 after the death of the then Member of Parliament for the area, Patrick Chikusu.
Seven candidates are contesting the seat.
The ruling Patriotic Front (PF) has fielded Moses Chilando, the United Party for National Development (UPND) has Jonas Shakafuswa as its candidate and the former ruling party, Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) has fielded Cecil Holmes while the Alliance for a Better Zambia (ABZ) has Patricia Mwashingwele as its candidate.
Other candidates are Friday Malawo of the oldest political party in Zambia, the United National Independence Party (UNIP), Shakespeare Mwakamui of National Revolution Party (NRP) and Joseph Mushalika of National Restoration Party (NAREP).