Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Chief Electoral Officer Patrick Nshindano says the commission has resolved to review the electoral process code of conduct enforcement regulations to enable the commission to act swiftly against perpetrators of violence.
Speaking during a press briefing, Wednesday, Nshindano said enforcement of the code of conduct had been a challenge because of the strict legal provisions that hinged on strict time frames and processes that had to be followed.
“This morning, the Commission met with the leadership of both PF and UPND in the presence of the church, Civil Society and the police. And communicated our resolve to immediately review the electoral process code of conduct enforcement regulations to enable us to act swiftly and decisively against the perpetrators of electoral violence. With this, we trust that all political players will conduct themselves with utmost dignity to maintain a peaceful electoral environment. We implore political players to reflect and stop the blame game and demonstrate leadership. We have no doubt that that with their support, we can conduct violence free elections activities that will also help the commission in conducting free and fair elections that meets the aspiration of the Zambian people,” Nshindano said
“Allow me to mention that the commission will not hesitate to disqualify erring parties or candidates who breach the electoral code of conduct. Enforcement of the code has been a challenge because of the stringent legal provisions that hinge on the structure, processes and the strict time frames that must be followed. It would appear that political parties bent on causing disturbances time their mischievous activities just before or on the day of polls and thereby making it difficult for the commission to take meaningful sanctions. You will notice that there are some obvious procedural hindrances in the enforcement regulations and hence our desire and resolve to urgently revise the regulations.”
Nshindano said despite engagement and appeals to end political violence, the PF and UPND had continued to disregard the electoral code of conduct.
“The commission has taken note of the calls by the public and stakeholders for the commission to end political and electoral violence by imposing punitive sanctions against those who breach the electoral code of conduct despite engagements and appeals made the commission to the political parties. In this case, the United Party for National Development (UPND) and Patriotic Front (PF), the two political parties have continued to disregard the electoral code of conduct. As a commission, we thought it imperative that we timely caution both PF and UPND. And whichever party breaches the electoral code of conduct will only have itself to blame once the commission takes drastic action,” he warned.
And when asked to comment on the confusion which characterized ECZ’s meeting with political parties after failure to reach an agreement, Nshindano said the meeting was not meant to resolve any conflict.
“The objective of that meeting was very simple. It was not meant to resolve the conflict between the two political parties. It was not meant to hear what happened in Kaoma. The commission has the position .And the position is that; we have had enough of electoral violence and it’s time we put a stop to it. And part of that involves adherence to the code of conduct which has continued being breached with impunity,” said Nshindano.