The Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services Initiative is disturbed with reports of Electoral Blackmail in Mangango and other areas where by-elections are taking place.
GEARS Initiative Executive Director McDonald Chipenzi said says his Organisation is in receipt of reports of electoral blackmail through accelerated implementation of government projects in areas holding district, constituency and ward bye elections cross the country.
Mr. Chipenzi said GEARS Initiative is in receipt of reports that government has engaged in a very high gear installing satellite village TVs project in Mangango constituency ahead of the parliamentary bye-election there.
He said the move is a clear violation of the law and code and this practice is pure electoral irregularities and electoral blackmail which is outlawed by the electoral process Act and code of Conduct.
Mr. Chipenzi said the satellite village TVs installation project, though good as it may be for information sharing, education and entertainment for the rural populace like the people of Mangango, Lupososhi and others, rolling it out during an election is against the rules of the electoral game.
He has since demanded that the installation of satellite village TVs in Mangango Constituency and other areas holding bye-elections must be halted until the bye- elections are over which is just in less than a month.
Mr. Chipenzi emphasised that being a rural constituencies, districts and wards where these elections are held, installing a satellite TV in each village/ward will be construed to be a way of buying off the electorate ahead of the bye-election to vote for the party in government, thereby creating uneven electoral playfield.
Meanwhile, Mr. Chipenzi said GEARS Initiative is also in receipt of reports that District Commissioners in Mangango and other areas where bye elections are due are involved in partisan political and electoral campaigns when they are civil servants who are not allowed by law to engage in such activities.
He said this practice of tolerating DCs to engage in partisan electoral campaigns by permanent secretaries of respective provinces is not only uncalled for but must be stopped forthwith as it is outlawed by the Constitution and Electoral Process Act.
Mr. Chipenzi said the involvement of the DCs and the installation of satellite Village TV in Mangango and other areas currently in electoral campaigns, if not arrested, are likely to undermine the peace currently prevailing in these districts, constituencies and wards as the day of the bye-election approaches.
He has appealed to the Electoral Commission of Zambia to investigate these allegations or reports and if found true, invoke its powers provided for under the Act and Code by censuring those involved in undermining the credibility of the electoral process in Mangango and other areas holding elections and ECZ’s work.
And Mr. Chipenzi said the Organisation is also in receipt of a report regarding the “roughing” up of former Manyinga PF MP Mr. Danny Chingimbu by residents ahead of a ward bye-election in that district.
He said Mr. Chingimbu is said to have visited the ward during his campaigns for the PF adopted candidate promising them improved life, which they felt insulted because he allegedly failed to improve and provide the services when he served as MP.