JUDGE Esau Chulu has disclosed that the Electoral Commission of Zambia has received reports that PF officials stopped a Nyimba pontoon from operating to deter opposition political parties from filing their nominations for the Luangwa Ward by-elections.
And judge Chulu, who is the ECZ chairperson, has urged all political parties taking part in the Chilanga parliamentary and local government by-elections to desist from acts of intimidation, hate speech, defamatory language or violence during the campaign period and on the poll day scheduled for June 5.
Speaking at the mid-term evaluation meeting with church mother bodies and political parties on Friday May 11, attended by the deputy Inspector General of Police, judge Chulu said complaints from NDC and UPND have since been officially submitted to the Nyimba District Conflict Management Committees, and that the electoral body was keenly monitoring the incident and would take appropriate steps after receiving the final findings.
“The Commission has also received reports from our officers of an incident in Luangwa Ward, Nyimba District, that took place during the nomination where it is alleged that a pontoon was held back by a PF district official and council chairperson by threatening the ferry man (operator) as a way of deterring other parties to file in their nominations,” judge Zulu.
He added that it was highly regrettable that during the nominations of May 3, political parties failed to adhere to the electoral regulations as set out in the Electoral Code of Conduct which aims to promote a conducive electoral environment.
“These actions brought about fear and discomfort amongst the minds of people within the nomination centre…I wish to express my disappointment over such conduct which was experienced after commitment to adhere to the resolutions and expectations which the political parties collectively agreed, in the presence of the Church mother bodies to abide by, at a meeting held on 30 April 2018 here at the Commission,” judge Chulu said.
He added that he was deeply concerned with the use of hate speech and inflammatory language by political parties.
“Further, the personality attacks on candidates that might lead to provocation during the campaign period and thereafter should be avoided…We strongly urge all political parties taking part in the Chilanga parliamentary and local government by-elections to desist from acts of intimidation, hate speech, defamatory language or violence during the campaign period and on the poll day scheduled for 5th June 2018,” judge Chulu said.
He further encouraged all political parties to comply with the Electoral Code of Conduct, failure to which the Commission would have no other recourse but to disqualify the political party/parties or their candidate/candidates.
“The Commission wishes to remind the political parties and all stakeholders that the Commission has extra powers vested in it by the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016, section 110 that allows for the Commission to disqualify a political party or candidate in breach of the Code…the Commission has the duty to censure acts done by leaders of political parties, candidates, supporters, and government and its organs, which are aimed at jeopardising elections or done in contravention of this code,” judge Chulu said.
He added that Zambians had a right to vote and choose their leaders freely in a non-violent and peaceful manner. Judge Chulu said the ECZ would continue to uphold the code and manage by-elections in a free and fair manner that meets the aspirations of Zambians.
He urged key stakeholders in the electoral process to promote issue based campaigns and abide by the code and help the commission to deliver peaceful by-elections in Chilanga and the six wards.
“I also call on the Church to continue with their prophetic role that guides and unites our people, especially during elections,” said judge Chulu.