The Electoral Commission of Zambia has maintained that the Zambia News and Information Services disregarded its instructions when it mounted a Public Address System during the filing of nomination for PF candidate Edgar Lungu.
Chief Government Spokesperson Joseph Katema says ZANIS acted in accordance with the law by providing the public address system to Mr. Lungu during the filing of nomination papers last Saturday.
Dr Katema, who is also Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, said ZANIS acted in accordance with its mandate of providing communication support to Government officials, at no cost, and acted within the law.
Dr Katema said the news agency was obliged to provide communication services to Mr Lungu, who was in the company of acting President Guy Scott, a government official.
“The Electoral [Code of Conduct] Regulations of 2011, Statutory Instrument No. 52 of 2011, authorise a person serving as President or Vice-President to use such facilities in connection with their respective offices.
“The assertion that ZANIS disadvantaged other candidates by providing the public address system is unfortunate. ZANIS is expected to provide its facilities to any meeting which His Excellency the acting President Dr Guy Scott is expected to attend,” Mr Katema said.
But in an interview, ECZ Spokesman Chris Akufuna said the defence of ZANIS actions by government is unfortunate adding that the Commission takes great exception to Government’s response saying ZANIS was instructed not to mount the public address system for the PF as it had not done so for other candidates.
Mr Akufuna added, “The Commission has a duty to ensure that there is a fair and level playing field through the electoral process in fact during the 2011 presidential nomination, the commission in the same spirit did not allow ZNBC Television to provide live coverage of the lodging of nomination by MMND candidate Mr. Rupiah Banda who was the republican president at the time because ZNBC had not provided for the other presidential candidates. ZANIS acted in clear disregard and authority as an independent body that is solely in charge of the electoral process.”
He continued, “The Acting President was merely in the company of the PF candidate and that the free use of government facilities did not apply in this case.”
“We wish to employ the government not to condone defiance of the authority of the commission as this would undermine the electoral process and disadvantage other stakeholders participating in the election,” he said.