US Embassy in Zambia interim Charge d’Affaires David Young has expressed concern over the shut down of social media in the country.
And Young has condemned the spate of violence recorded in some parts of the country.
Meanwhile, United Kingdom High Commissioner to Zambia Nicholas Woolley has also condemned the social media shut down.
Speaking to journalists at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, Friday, Young noted that during election time, sharing information was a positive thing.
“We are concerned about the shutdown of social media in different places. That is concerning to us because in a time of an election, sharing information is a very positive thing. All of you in the press know that, sharing information builds confidence, it encourages people, it makes them feel good about democracy. So, we urge that information be shared freely,” Young said.
He commended the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) staff for their dedicated work at various polling stations.
“Now all eyes turn to the ECZ and their important work. We have seen at the grassroot levels and the polling stations the dedication of ECZ workers, of polling agents, the presiding officers, the police, the military who guaranteed that almost everywhere, it has been peaceful and orderly. Many people had to stay in line for a long time but they were dedicated and they did that. So in the coming hours and days, we look forward to hearing the briefings from ECZ as they count and announce the votes. We salute them and the dedicated public servants of ECZ who are so key to Zambia’s democracy,” he said.
Young further called on law enforcement agencies to act on the perpetrators of violence.
He said attacks on the former Lusaka Mayor and his bodyguard were worrisome.
“We have heard reports of the acts of violence that have happened very tragically around the country. And I want to express on behalf of the US Embassy our profound condolences and sorrow at the loss of life that has been suffered. Mr (Jackson) Kungo’s death in Solwezi is a terrible tragedy and the people who did that terrible crime need to be brought to justice. We urge law enforcement and the courts to move forward to make sure that that kind of violence is not allowed to happen. It undermines the people’s faith in security around the country,” said Young.
“Similarly, attacks on Miles Sampa, his bodyguard and others are very worrisome. We have heard reports of a UPND supporter in Chilanga who was attacked. There have been people in different parts of the country who have suffered violence. All Zambians want peace and we want to support as partners the call that there be peace in the country. Everyone wants a free, fair, transparent and peaceful election, that is our prayer for Zambia as our friends. I offer my profound personal condolences to the families of those that have lost lives. We want to say that this can be no more. We want to salute our police and military who are working to keep people safe. We need to stand up to combat violence.”
Meanwhile, in a tweet, Thursday evening, High Commissioner Woolley said the need for transparency on polling day was paramount.
“I spoke with the Permanent Secretary of Information & Broadcasting this afternoon & expressed my concern about ongoing social media restrictions in #Zambia. The need for transparency on polling day is paramount,” tweeted High Commissioner Woolley.