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Electoral results should be reflective of people’s free will, says judge Lisimba

(By Isaac Zulu in Kapiri Mposhi)

COMMISSION of Inquiry on Voting Patterns and Electoral Violence chairperson Munalula Lisimba says electoral results should be reflective of the free will of the people. Speaking during a sitting to receive submissions from people in Kapiri Mposhi at the council lodge, Lisimba said in a democratic dispensation like Zambia, the electoral process had to be transparent and reflect the will of the people that vote in any given election.

He explained that President Edgar Lungu appointed the Commission of Inquiry on Voting Pattern and Electoral Violence with the mandate to inquire into the voting pattern and electoral violence that characterised the 2016 general elections. Lisimba underscored the need for individuals to make recommendations to the Commission that would help curb political violence in the country.

He said the Commission had been receiving submissions from nine provinces of Zambia and would be winding up its sittings by December and, subsequently, submit a report to the Head of State. And Kapiri Mposhi district commissioner Peter Mwiinde called for stiffer punishment for perpetrators of political violence. In his submissions in his individual capacity, Mwiinde proposed that political violence should be a non-bailable offence in order to deter would be offenders.

“Zambia is known to be a beacon of peace in the SADC region. But at the moment we are almost divided; we have peaceful people and violent people in our society. That is not the way it should be…we need a free and just society,” Mwiinde said. “I am therefore proposing that there should be no bail for perpetrators of political violence so that we maintain law and order during elections.”

Mwiinde further observed that political players had a tendency of not adhering to the Electoral Code during campaigns, saying this was one of the contributing factors to political violence.

Kapiri Mposhi district council chairperson Obby Kabasa noted that hate speech had the potential to fuel political tension.

In his submissions in his personal capacity, Kabasa urged politicians to stop engaging in hate speech against their competitors during election campaigns.

He submitted that political players should not consider each other as enemies, but as political competitors.

The civic leader also urged his fellow politicians not to engage in tribal politics.

Kabasa observed that tribal politics had the potential to divide the nation.

“Politicians should refrain from hate speech and tribal politics. There’s need to bring sanity in Zambian politics,” said Kabasa.

He further implored politicians not to use young people as tools of political violence.

“Politicians are to blame for political violence during elections because they are the ones that incite youths to fight political opponents. These youths are sponsored by politicians. Therefore, politicians should stop using youths as tools of political violence,” said Kabasa.

Meanwhile, a trader accused the private media of being biased in their reporting during election campaigns.

In his submissions, Joseph Chisala singled out The Mast newspaper as one the media houses that had exhibited biasness when reporting on political campaign activities.

Chisala, however, failed to point out a news article from The Mast newspaper that was written in a biased manner during the run up to the 2016 general elections when asked to do so by commissioner Lisimba.

Chisala claimed that the public media had been ethical in their reporting during election campaigns.

He further called on media houses to be objective when reporting on political campaign activities.

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