ELECTORAL Commission of Zambia (ECZ) corporate affairs manager Patricia Luhanga has described the atmosphere in Kaumbwe constituency and other areas holding local government elections on October 21 as peaceful so far.
In an interview, Luhanga hoped that political parties had learnt lessons from the general elections and would ensure that no violence was registered in the upcoming by-elections.
“You know what follows when we are done with nominations, the commission has issued a campaign schedule not only for Kaumbwe [parliamentary by-election] but for all the [other] elections we are holding for Kaumbwe. There is also chairperson for Chisamba, Lusangazi. We also have four other wards; there is Zimba, there is Mwansabombwe, Masaiti, there is Mushindamo. What we are hoping is that the stakeholders who are the political parties in this election will follow the campaign schedule and campaign peacefully,” she said.
“I hope there are lessons that were learnt from the 12th [August] election and the campaigns that preceded that election and that violence will not be registered in these elections. We also hope stakeholders will adhere to the electoral code of conduct. If there is any breach, we will not hesitate really to evoke the provisions in terms of punishing the offenders. But so far so good, we are yet to get more updates from these district electoral officers who are on the ground now.”
Luhanga said political parties should learn to coexist and allow divergent views.
“I think we have been very consistent in terms of having violent free elections. First of all, there is no reason why people should not have divergent views. We should learn to coexist and allow for divergent views from whatever political party. At the same time we also say violence undermines the credibility of an election. It may also lead to voter apathy and when that happens, for us as a commission I think it raises questions on how then do we make improvements. But then improvement can not really be up to the commission but the various stakeholders, in particular the political parties who are the ones that are sponsoring these youths to cause violence,” said Luhanga.
“I think at the end of the day, we need to interrogate ourselves. Like I said, I think the campaign preceding the 12th elections put across a number of lessons that we can learn from and the negative lessons we can avoid going forward in this election and those that will come in 2026 and beyond. We should emphasise what this nation is known for, we have received quite a lot of recommendations as a country for the just ended election in a peaceful manner and we need to build on that and show other countries that we are a country that believes in peaceful elections, and in peaceful transitions.”