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Milenge council chairperson’s by-election campaign incident free – CCMG observers

THE CHRISTIAN Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) consortium has appealed to voters in Milenge Constituency to turn out in numbers tomorrow to elect their council chairperson.

According to the Milenge pre-by-election observation report, CCMG Steering Committee chairperson Father Cleophas Lungu stated that as part of its ongoing mission to support democratic development and promote free and fair electoral processes in Zambia, it was undertaking non-partisan monitoring of the December 5 council chairperson by-election in Milenge, Luapula Province.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has set December 5 to hold the council chairperson by-elections in Milenge Constituency.

On the same day, ECZ would also conduct five local government ward by-elections in Chipundu Ward of Chitambo, Serenje Ward of Serenje in Central Province, Ilambo Ward of Lupososhi, Mumila Ward of Mpulungu, and Katwe Ward of Mpulungu in Northern Province.

Fr Lungu stated that CCMG’s observation of the council chairperson by-election in Milenge Constituency would include pre-election observation as well as election day observation, with roving observers and stationary observers covering all 38 polling streams.

According to the report for the period November 21 to 27, CCMG observed that 100 per cent of CCMG’s observers witnessed or heard voter education/information conducted by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).

Fr Lungu stated that none of the CCMG observers witnessed or heard any voter education/information conducted by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) or local media in Milenge Constituency.

He stated that 100 per cent of CCMG’s observers witnessed or heard of preparations by the ECZ for the Milenge by-election, including the recruitment of polling staff.

Fr Lungu stated that 100 per cent of CCMG observers witnessed or heard of campaign activities being conducted by the PF and UPND.

He stated that CCMG observers did not witness or hear of any campaign activities associated with any political party other than PF and UPND.

Fr Lungu stated that CCMG recommended that the ECZ intensifies voter education efforts including voter education targeted at women, youths and persons with disabilities.

He also recommended that ECZ continues to engage with political parties, CSOs/CBOs and traditional leaders and all other relevant stakeholders on the need for non-violent campaigns in Milenge Constituency and ensure adherence to the electoral code of conduct by all stakeholders.

Fr Lungu recommended that the police work with political parties to ensure a peaceful campaign period.

He urged the Zambia Police to maintain a safe environment for media, citizens and political parties to enjoy their rights

Fr Lungu recommended that political parties refrain from harassing and threatening journalists as they carry out their duties during the campaign period and beyond

He recommended that CSOs conduct targeted and coordinated voter education and information campaigns, and with consideration for the needs of women, youths and persons with disabilities.

Fr Lungu recommended that CSOs facilitate engagement meetings aimed at preventing and mitigating violence ahead of the by-election.

Fr Lungu stated that CCMG did not observe any instances of campaign activities taking place in prohibited spaces.

He stated that the group also did not observe any instances of government vehicles being used for campaign activities, nor any instances of political parties or candidates providing handouts.

Fr Lungu stated that none of CCMG observers witnessed or heard of any instances of disruption during campaign activities nor any government restrictions on campaign.

He stated that the CCMG did not observe instances of any traditional or religious leaders using their influence to support a particular party or candidate.

Fr Lungu stated that CCMG did not observe any instances of political party youth wearing military attire or masks, nor any instances of political parties transporting youth from outside of Milenge Constituency.

“Politically-motivated violence, use of hate speech and other electoral offences, CCMG did not observe any case of use of language which is inflammatory, defamatory or insulting or which constitutes incitements to public disorder, insurrection, hate, or violence or war. None of CCMG’s observers observed any incidents where a party supporter or voter was sexually assaulted for political motives, nor observed any form of intimidation or harassment against a candidate or his/her supporter,” stated Fr Lungu. “Additionally, CCMG did not observe any violent physical attacks during political campaign events, however a CCMG observer did report an instance of violence did occur related to a campaign activity. CCMG did not observe any instances of buying of voter’s cards, nor any instances of parties arming their supporters. [However] CCMG notes with concern the harassment and threatening of journalist Jubilee Malambo by Hon. Nixon Chilangwa, Luapula Provincial minister. The incident was reported on 14 November 2019 during the nomination of candidates.”

The CCMG partner organisations include the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR) and Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) through Caritas Zambia.

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