Anti-Voter Apathy executive director Richwell Mulwani says the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) should not hesitate to defer the February 12, parliamentary by-election in Sesheke Constituency once an assessment shows that the electorate will not vote freely due to the on-going electoral violence in the campaigns.
And Mulwani has called on the Police Command in Sesheke and across the country to arrest all suspected Patriotic Front members who are gun-toting, saying illegal possession of firearms was a criminal offence.
Meanwhile, Mulwani has accused the PF of embracing violence by paying lip service to the national dialogue process.
“The violence that we are seeing in Sesheke and other parts where we have these by-elections should not be entertained. We know that the PF and the UPND are in a serious political struggle because they want to win at all costs. Then also, the PF want to use violence as a way of doing their business, this is not good because this country needs to be at peace. Even when it came to the dialogue process, they (PF) were the ones who were not there. They were absent. And they kept on talking about this dialogue when actually they were not committed to the dialogue themselves. We challenge them as AVAP to seriously consider dialogue as a very important process which can help us deal with this violence,” Mulwani said.
“This violence has been talked about for so many years, but now what we are hearing of guns in Sesheke and in Chililabombwe it’s the same, a PF cadre was moving with a gun. Where is the police? The police should disarm those people who are moving with guns in the country because that is a criminal offence which should be handled by the police. Let them take it up to go and disarm those people who are moving with guns in the campaigns because they may end up shooting innocent citizens. A bullet can stray and hit an innocent person. So we are really appealing to the police to control the situation in Sesheke, they should arrest those that are using guns, let them be taken to courts of law and charged.”
Mulwani called on ECZ and other stakeholders to assess the extent of violence in Sesheke and suspend the elections if need be.
“The law is very clear, the electoral code of conduct is very clear, how can we endorse violence in our country when we are known to be peaceful people? Really this is becoming a problem and we are calling on the Electoral Commission of Zambia to make an assessment whether the environment in Sesheke is conducive to hold a free and fair election. If the environment is not conducive, I think what is important is to defer the election to another date so that the situation can calm, or to suspend the campaigns so that the stakeholders are called and then talked to,” said Mulwani.
“Political parties should not use violence as a way of winning an election. That is unacceptable. The international standard of a free and fair election proves that it’s the citizens that are supposed to decide, the majority should decide the one who has won an elections and as AVAP, we want to call upon the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and the Zambia Police to jointly make an assessment and inform the nation as to the extent of violence in Sesheke. We don’t want to see another life lost in Sesheke.”