THE Human Rights Commission (HRC) has advised the UPND and PF to reflect on the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s decision to ban them from campaigning in four districts.
In an interview, HRC chairperson Mudford Mwandenga said it was a fact that there was electoral violence.
“They have to reflect on the decision which ECZ has given. Are those reasons good enough? Is it true that there is electoral violence? If there is violence, the political leaders should weigh in on their cadres. Advise them that it is not necessary to engage in violence. And if you notice, it affects only two parties so meaning that the ECZ has reason to believe that those two parties have been engaging in forms of violence in one way or the other and to curb that, that is why ECZ has banned those campaigns. So during this particular period, all the people that are involved should reflect on the issues and come to terms with the fact that violence is not tolerable,” said Mwandenga.
“There are circumstances which have led ECZ to make that decision and according to them, it is based on the violence that is taking place. It is a notorious fact that there has been violence. It is a fact that there is electoral violence which has been cited in those various districts and ECZ as the body in charge of the responsibility of managing the election, has the right to decide how the conduct of the election is going to be done. So the parties have to look into the issues that ECZ has raised and change their ways of doing things. If they think they are doing the right thing, they should engage ECZ. It is absolutely not necessary, elections are about ideas. You don’t have to use violence to win an election, you have to sell your ideas.”
On Tuesday, ECZ suspended PF and UPND campaigns in Lusaka, Namwala, Mpulungu and Nakonde with immediate effect citing escalating violence in the areas.
Speaking at a media briefing, ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano said the suspension would be reviewed after 14 days.
“The Commission indicated that it will be following the activities for PF and UPND with keen interest, should electoral violence continue both parties risk being suspended. Sadly, the commission has observed the continued disregard of the electoral code of conduct and this is despite the counsel rendered. The vice has continued and thus far escalating levels of violence were experienced especially more in the following districts; Lusaka, Mpulungu, Nakonde and Namwala. The commission has pursuant to Article 229(2)(e) of the Republican Constitution and subparagraph 4 (1) c, d, i and 11 d of the electoral code of conduct suspended with immediate effect all manner of political campaigns for PF and UPND in Lusaka, Mpulungu, Namwala and Nakonde due to escalating violence,” said Nshindano.