ZAMBIA Correctional Service (ZCS) Commissioner General Dr Chisela Chileshe says physical presence is not the only mode of campaigning, explaining that leaflets and the media can be used to reach out to inmates.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia announced that out of a targeted number of 16,000 persons in lawful custody, the Commission registered a total number of 14,963 representing 93.52 percent.
Stakeholders like the Chapter One Foundation, however, raised concern over the opposition’s lack of access to correctional facilities, arguing that the PF had an unfair advantage.
But in an interview, Dr Chileshe said it was up to the different political parties to provide Television sets for correctional facilities which were lacking so that they could disseminate their campaign messages.
“The process of voting has phases. The first phase is that people register and the inmates have, so are registered to vote. So they are just waiting to cast their vote. For now, it is not me to talk about campaigns but like I have said, there were submissions that were done by all stakeholders on how the people who are vying for positions should conduct themselves in these security facilities. But I have mentioned on different forums that you cannot cast a vote minus knowing what candidate you are voting for. Obviously, it entails that there will be campaigns but now the form and the type of campaign will be defined through the guidelines. For you when they say campaign, it is physical where they stand on the podium and start talking, that is not the only way to campaign, there are several ways to campaign. They should talk to them in a different manner. There will be the use of the media, leaflets and so on. The inmates have TV all over and if they don’t, that is the role of people who want to disseminate their information as well through the Electoral Commission of Zambia as long as they fall within the guidelines,” Dr Chileshe said.
“The playing field will be levelled so any method that anyone wants to use apart from the physical campaigns, because these physical campaigns entails that there are a lot of issues that need to be put in place. Some political parties have written to my office and I have guided them that we are not the custodians of elections. The elections are supervised and conducted by ECZ. We are just like a school or university that has students and then students go and vote. The students and lecturers are totally different; you will never see a university trying to control. The guidelines will be there. Remember that there are posters that people put. So for instance if your ward is in Mukobeko and you are a ward councilor that wants to stand, obviously we will not say ‘do not take your posters in the facility’ we will prescribe as to where these posters should be and then people will be able to know that this is the gentleman vying for a ward.”
And Dr Chileshe said there would be transport provided for inmates that would be transferred to a different correctional facility.
“We will facilitate to ensure that inmates go and vote. We normally take them for their examinations. Somebody will be sitting for TEVETA exams, we transfer to where they are supposed to write their exams from. But this is a time where we will be very cautious to be transferring inmates anyhow so that they can exercise their rights to vote,” said Dr Chileshe.