The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says it is not aware that the Patriotic Front and the United Party for National Development were involved in early campaigns in Katuba.
And ECZ says it will start the voter education exercise for the forthcoming Katuba by-election today.
This week, the Christian Churches Monitoring Group CCMG released a report where they revealed that they had observed early campaign activities being conducted by PF and UPND, including party mobilisation meetings and door-to-door mobilisation.
CCMG also stated that did not observe any voter education by ECZ or by civil society organisations in Katuba constituency and also noted
But in an interview, Wednesday, ECZ public relations manager Margret Chimanse said the commission was not aware of any campaign activities that had taken place before nomination.
“If there is any evidence, let them show that evidence otherwise I am not commenting on the report. If they wanted, let them send the report, let us sit down and see how we can improve the processes as opposed to punching holes, we are all in his together. I cannot comment on a report I have not seen, if it’s meant for the public, I don’t know maybe it’s meant for the public we don’t know. The commission has power during the campaign period beyond that it is the police,” Chimanse said.
And Chimanse said the commission could not start the voter education process until candidates filed in their nominations.
“Voter education will start after nominations when we’ll know who is standing, we will start voter education on Friday. So they where being trained this week those who are going out, nominations will be tomorrow (yesterday) and when people know who are standing that is when they will start on Friday they will be deployed, that is voter education that is specific to Katuba. Not just the commission, we have all these institutions, we have political parties, they also have a role to play we all do this together. Ours is just to give broad guidance on the process is all about and why people vote. Then the candidates then sell themselves, their ideologies and what they are going to do if voted into office. That is all part of voter education and increasing awareness on what is happening,” said Chimanse.
Meanwhile, in a separate Governance, Elections, Advocacy and Research Services GEARS executive director Macdonald Chipenzi said delay in carrying out voter education by ECZ was a sign of lack of funding to the commission by government.
“The government has undermined the ECZ big time in the sense that government has not been giving ECZ enough resources to conduct some of their usual activities like voter education and this is why you find ECZ does some periodic kind of voter education and voter registration which is not very good. And it is a known fact that if you want to undermine the electoral process and elections, under fun the body that manages it. So we are not likely to have any thing effective with regards the way we manage our elections as long as the ECZ is underfunded. And this is the same with civil society organisations if you read that report from CCMG they also acknowledge that no civil society has been in Katuba to do voter education and civic education,” said Chipenzi, who also commented on the appointment of CSPR executive director Patrick Nshindano as ECZ CEO.
“Looking at the time ahead of us to the next election, we would have proposed that the person that is already in the system should have been elevated and then the new comers should have taken up the other positions in order for them to learn.”