THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says any breach of the election campaign schedule is of concern to the Commission because it can cause violence.

And ECZ says an aggregated budget of about K13 million was set aside to hold three by-elections in Sonkotwe ward, Liangati ward and Kabwata constituency.

Speaking to journalists shortly after the verification of ballot papers ahead of the Kabwata parliamentary by-election, Monday, ECZ Corporate Affairs Manager Patricia Luhanga said it was expected of political parties to adhere to the campaign schedule.

“The commission is ready to undertake the by-election for Kabwata constituency. We have all the materials in and distribution will start tomorrow. We will give this material to the Lusaka City Council as this is the district election management body for the Electoral Commission of Zambia. We have also undertaken other activities that actually speak to the training of poll staff that are going to conduct this. So throughout the time, we have spoken about the by-election itself, in the background we have been preparing actively and accordingly,” she said.

“First of all the campaign timetable is meant to create sanity in the campaign process. The political parties created that schedule and mutually agreed that they were going to adhere to what has been put on the ground. Additionally, we also zoned the areas in about six to seven zones to allow political parties to campaign freely in every given area. Any breach, really is a concern for us as the Electoral Commission of Zambia. As you may be aware, crisscrossing as political parties in campaign areas is what causes violence.”

Luhanga called on the police to help in ensuring that political parties conducted campaigns peacefully.

“We have been very consistent that violence undermines the credibility of an election and these are things that we do not want to see happen. Our call to all the political parties is they must adhere to the campaign schedule in the remaining days. What we have done as the Electoral Commission of Zambia with the complaints that we have received is that we are engaging the respective political parties that are affected by this and try to ensure that this issue does not repeat itself. We are not taking it for granted that the period remaining is short but we will ensure that this is done accordingly,” she said.

“In addition, Zambia police have the responsibility to help us police the campaign schedule. They are there to protect the lives of the people first as well as ensuring that there is no crisscrossing. So they have set up zones in different areas to ensure that political parties are adhering to what has been spoken to. Let [us] also just maybe make a call to Zambia police to ensure that they help political parties that are affected in this matter.”

Meanwhile, Luhanga said an aggregated budget of about K13 million was set aside to hold three by-elections in Sonkotwe ward, Liangati ward and Kabwata constituency.

“We will not speak to Kabwata specifically but we have had an aggregated budget of about K13 million. If you remember very well, we had three by-elections that were taking place at the same time. That is Sonkotwe ward, we also had Liangati and Kabwata at the same time. So in our preparations we put everything together and aggregate what is supposed to be spent,” said Luhanga.

Some of the participating political party representatives that attended the ECZ verification exercise included those from the Democratic Party, PF, UPND and New Heritage Party.

ECZ has set February 3, 2022 as the date to hold the Kabwata Parliamentary by-election.