TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) says it will be tracking political party campaign spending ahead of the August elections.

Speaking at the launch of the 2021 elections interventions, Friday, TIZ president Sampa Kalungu noted that excessive spending during campaigns had the potential to influence a political vote and also carried potential elements of possible electoral corruption.

“TIZ will be tracking political party campaign spending, as excessive spending has the potential to influence a political vote and carries potential elements of possible electoral corruption. TIZ is interested in how political campaign spending, especially excessive spending, can influence the voice of citizens or voters. Identified electoral vulnerabilities driving electoral corruption will further inform advocacy interventions towards strengthening the electoral law and other laws related to dealing with electoral corruption and malpractices,” he said.

“We will focus on analysing the electoral act and related legislation with a view to identifying transparency and accountability weaknesses. Since there is no law regulating political and campaign financing, TIZ will use its engagements with political parties to gather information on how political parties and campaigns are financed as well as using proxy indicators about the cost of undertaking election campaigns. Proxy indicators will further point to possible electoral corruption and malpractices. These as well as other evidence on the weaknesses in the Electoral Act will inform electoral law strengthening advocacy interventions post the 2021 general elections.”

Kalunga explained that the overall goal of the organisation’s 2021 elections project was to promote transparency, accountability and integrity in the electoral process in the country.

“TIZ will also sample constituencies where Transparency Vote Tabulation (TVT) will be conducted. To facilitate this, selected election observers as well as selected journalists will be trained in TVT. Poll monitoring will be at three levels, polling station, district totalling and at national centres. At each stage, announced election results will be shared with the TIZ command centre before they are shared through the media. To facilitate sharing of election results, TIZ will collaborate with one media house which will broadcast election results shared through the TVT that will have been announced through the national totalling center. Through the TIZ TVT command centre, election results trends will be generated and safeguarded, awaiting announcements from the national totalling centre,” he said.

“As TIZ, we are convinced that holding of free and fair elections is a fundamental pillar of democracy as it guarantees protection of voters’ choices and the integrity of the electoral process through eliminating electoral corruption, undue influence, and electoral malpractices in general. The overall goal of our 2021 elections project is to promote transparency, accountability and integrity in the electoral process in Zambia. To improve political integrity among political parties and political players, to increase citizens’ understanding of transparency, accountability, integrity and electoral corruption. To improve election campaigns, polls and election results monitoring, electoral malpractice referrals to law enforcement agencies and tracking of action taken on referrals; and to advocate for the strengthening of electoral laws and adherence to the electoral code of conduct.”

Kalunga added that TIZ’s election monitoring would also focus on monitoring intra-party activities.

“The project will focus on monitoring the integrity of the electoral process, our election monitoring will focus on intra-party adherence to adoption processes, election campaigns, and polling day processes and activities. Intra-party activities monitoring will be done through the political integrity initiative as well as through attending political party election-related activities. The main tool to guide this monitoring will be the Integrity Pacts (IPs) which we will sign with political parties. This therefore will be restricted to political parties who will have committed to promoting political integrity by signing the IPs. Any inconsistencies in the election results will be followed up by the high-level TIZ election observer team for verifications and where necessary to demand for transparency and accountability on the inconsistencies,” he added.

“Coalition building, networking and stakeholder engagement through our elections project. We will continue collaborating with key stakeholders in the electoral process including political parties, other civil society organisations (CSOs), the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and other Cooperating Partners involved in the electoral process, government departments such as Law Enforcement Agencies and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), as well as communities. This will be done through attending joint electoral process interventions, bilateral engagement meetings and community meetings. Furthermore, networking will be promoted through sharing experiences and best practices as well as discussing effective ways of dealing with challenges related to the electoral process.”

And Kalungu urged the police to be impartial when executing their duties.

He further appealed to political leaders to tame and manage their cadres and foot soldiers.

“We also reiterate our call for the Zambia Police Service to exhibit the highest form of professionalism, not just in terms of how they implement the Public Order Act, but also how they generally conduct themselves particularly when dealing with sensitive political matters or indeed matters that have to do with the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of citizens. We urge the Police not to hinder the enjoyment of citizens’ rights and freedoms in any way, but to be impartial in executing their mandate. Further we make a strong appeal to leaders of all political parties to tame and manage their cadres and foot soldiers, who often are the source of trouble and violence, to act with empathy and in the broad interest of peace,” Kalungu said.