The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) has urged political party leaders to refrain from scaring voters by telling them to vote in their favor is they want to see development.

And CCMG has advised the Electoral Commission of Zambia ECZ to consider conducting voter education as soon as the date of an election is announced.

The group is comprised of Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), and Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) and Caritas Zambia.

At a briefing, Monday, CCMG steering committee member Fr Emmanuel Chikoya noted that defamatory campaigns were minimal in Katuba.

“It is an unfortunate statement (that if you don’t vote for me you won’t see development) and I think all I can say is to persuade or forewarn our politicians to stick to issues and stay away from things that can make other people feel like they are left out just because they voted not as someone wanted them to vote. So that is a very unfortunate statement and we expect all our political party leaders to cooperate now and even after elections and never to issue such statements because every Zambian deserves development every area in Zambia deserves development not because they voted according to my liking or somebody’s likening but because they are Zambians and they pay taxes and all these other things. A politician should focus on selling your message and whatever it is as opposed to scaring voters to vote according to their liking,” Fr Chikoya said.

“I think when analyzing the situation comparing to other electoral violence that had happened in the past, I think largely the incidences of defamatory kind of language have been minimal.”

He said CCMG noted with concern an incident of violence which occurred during nominations.

“CCMG observed significant campaign activities across all wards in Katuba constituency for both the Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND). While CCMG notes with concern the incident of violence which took place during the 11th July nominations as well as an altercation between supporters of opposing parties on 18th July. CCMG observed that police were largely present at campaign events, and did not observe any instances of politically
motivated sexual violence. CCMG also did not observe any cases of buying of voter’s cards, instances of campaigns taking place within prohibited places, uses of government vehicles for campaign purposes, nor any instances of political parties providing handouts,” he said.

And Fr Chikoya advised ECZ to consider conducting voter education as soon as the date of an election is announced.

“CCMG recommends that the ECZ consider conducting voter education as soon as the date of an election is announced. The current practice of conducting voter education after nominations leaves very time for the commission to adequately cover all aspects of voter education. CCMG also recommends that the need of women, youth and people with disabilities be considered in developing voter education. It is likely that the voter will turn out but we do
not expect a 100 % turnout,” said Fr Chikoya.