The Livingstone Press Club has embarked on a program to provide a platform for aspiring candidates in the forth-coming general elections to outline their profiles and visions to enable members of the public vote from an informed position.
Livingstone Press Club President, Brian Hatyoka, said the weekly forums set to begin next Friday would give an opportunity to those aspiring to the position of councillor, Executive Mayor and Member of Parliament, to sell themselves and their parties.
Mr Hatyoka said invitations had been extended to all political parties and independent candidates.
He said this in Livingstone today at the launch of the public forums for aspiring candidates in the August 11, 2016 General Elections.
Mr Hatyoka said the aspiring candidates would be asked to state their strategies on fighting unemployment, street vending, solid waste management, poor drainages, early marriages and corruption among other social and economic topics.
He further said the candidates would need to display their knowledge of the contents of the amended constitution.
“Aspiring candidates will be asked to debate on issue-based matters, going by the subject on the floor and this means that character assassination and the use of provocative language will not be tolerated during the debates,” he said.
Mr Hatyoka, however, said party regalia would not be allowed at the forums while each political party would be asked to sponsor 20 supporters to each forum but they would be expected to be in ordinary clothes.
And Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) Chairperson for Livingstone, Gideon Musonda, said the forums presented the best opportunity for members of the public to engage and scrutinise the would-be leaders at various levels of governance.
“Forums provide the electorate an opportunity to ascertain in advance candidates’ ability to debate and articulate issues in the council chambers and Parliament if voted into power,” he said.
Mr Musonda was also hopeful that the forums would promote dialogue and denounce any form of violence and character assassination as these posed a serious threat to the country’s democracy.
He also expressed concern over political parties and aspiring candidates who shunned such events.
“Candidates who shun such events do not deserve to be elected. This is because they show disrespect to the electorates who gather and eagerly wait to listen and question them on how they intend to run developmental programs if elected,” he said.
Meanwhile, Patriotic Front Livingstone Constituency Chairperson, Elias Mwila, denounced violence and stated that peace was cardinal to a Christian nation like Zambia.
Mr Mwila challenged political party leaders not to be hypocritical by condemning violence in public but privately encouraging it among their respective followers.
He also said the ruling party was yet to announce the list of aspiring candidates for Livingstone, as applications were still being received from interested individuals.
And UPND Livingstone District Spokesperson, Neto Halwabala, said having peaceful and violence-free campaigns and elections as the country goes to the polls was everyone’s responsibility.
“In the past we have insulted and hated each other but as we gather here today, I want us to realise that the biggest enemy the country is facing is not MMD, UPND, PF or UNIP but poverty,” he said.
Mr Halwabala said the country’s common enemy consisted of hunger, disease, illiteracy and youth unemployment.
He said it was time for all political parties to fight the common enemy instead of fighting each other.