THE UPND has written to Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) requesting the lifting of the suspension of its campaigns in Kanyama.
In a letter dated 3rd August 2021 and addressed to ECZ Chief Elections Officer Patrick Nshindano, UPND secretary general Batuke Imenda stated that it was unfortunate that the ECZ went ahead to suspend the UPND without giving the party an opportunity to be heard.
“We wish to officially lodge our complaint under section 112 of the electoral act No 35 of 2016 with regards to your purported decision to mete out a harsh decision of punishment by suspending our campaigns in Kanyama Constituency in Lusaka Province Zambia, without invoking the rules of natural justice, which include but may not be limited to the issue of notice of complaint and giving us the opportunity to be heard,” Imenda wrote.
“The foregoing must apply at all times and to all contestants as an intrinsic aspect of best practice in the conduct of free and fair elections. To the contrary however, we have not been furnished with any complaint by any as required under paragraph 12 of the electoral code or us to exculpate ourselves and we wonder as to why you have taken such a drastic action without reaching to us.”
Imenda threatened to take legal action if the suspension was not lifted.
“Needless to mention that the Commission has options to referring and reporting any of the violations of the code of conduct to the Zambia Police service and or any investigations wings and prosecution where appropriate vide paragraph 12(2) of the code of conduct, but you were quick to pull the trigger and proceeding to unfairly suspend our campaigns even before exhausting available processes. You have shown that the Commission has taken and has been taking positions that favour our opponents as opposed to being a fair umpire or referee in an election,” stated Imenda.
“In light of the above submission we hereby request you to immediately lift the suspension of our campaigns in Kanyama. Failure to which we shall have no option but to take appropriate legal action.”
And In an interview, UPND spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa said the suspension was unfair.
“First of all, we condemn violence regardless of who is involved. We take great exemption with the unprofessional conduct of Charity Katanga the deputy IG. Charity Katanga as a senior police officer holding that position and also as a lawyer, must at least ought to know that she cannot jump the gun and begin to blame that violence in Kanyama on the UPND. That is prejudicial to would-be suspects,” Mweetwa said.
“Further as it has turned out to be, one of the two people who are dead is the UPND vice-chairperson for Chinika Ward. So, who is a victim in this particular issue? So, we feel that professional misconduct should come to an end and that is why Zambians should vote for change so that the civil service can return to offering a service which is divorced from partisan politics.”
Mweetwa further stated that it was unfair to only suspend the UPND from campaigning in Kanyama before giving them an opportunity to be heard.
“The ECZ decided to suspend UPND campaigns. First of all the whole decision is manifestly unfair. If there is violence and then campaigns have to be suspended, all participating parties must equally be suspended. The suspension should not be of a political party, the suspension should be suspending campaigns in that particular locality to restore order. But in this particular issue, the UPND was not even given an opportunity to be heard. The UPND was supposed to be summoned, to go and appear before the district resolution board of the ECZ, and be charged or accused and given an opportunity for them to say ‘look this is the situation as it is on the ground. Contrary to what you are saying we are actually the victims ourselves. Our vice-chairperson was killed’,” he said.
“The ECZ must have gone ahead after such navigations to be able to make a proper and fit decision. We were aware of their decisions, they just sit on their own and quickly suspended UPND. Now, what does that mean when you suspend one party from campaigning? It means the other party will have field day campaigning alone. So, this kind of behaviour is totally uncalled for.”
Mweetwa claimed the move to suspend the UPND was politically calculated.
“We also saw in Chawama where there were such levels of violence, the PF were not suspended. So, we think that decision by ECZ is manifestly political. It was politically calculated. We don’t want to cry further than we have done, the people of Zamia have suffered for far too long. Where we are now, it is not time for finger-pointing, it is time to remain focused because we believe that the decisions the people are going to make on the 12th have already been made,” said Mweetwa.
“People already know what they want, so the campaign is merely to encourage people to go and vote otherwise we expect that all meaning Zambians already know the direction that the country is taking. This mood which has gathered in this country, no one will stop it until these people are removed from power.”