GEARS Initiative Zambia says the reaction to and position taken by Zambia Police Service and Electoral Commission of Zambia on the Commission of Inquiry report on Voting Pattern and Electoral Violence as contained in the Times of Zambia article, Tuesday November 19, 2019 edition on page 2 leaves much to be desired and may act as trigger to further violence in coming elections.
Organisation Executive Director McDonald Chipenzi says the two institutions seem to lack a public strategy to address the dangerous highlights in the reports.
He says GEARS Initiative Zambia finds it shocking that the two institutions are seemingly ending at analyzing and studying the 2016 Commission of Enquiry with a sole desire to amend the respective institutional gaps cited in the report in the future.
Mr. Chipenzi questioned what their immediate action against the perpetrators of such violence and hate speech are.
“Such responses are undermining and downplaying the criticality of and encouraging the current trends in voting patterns and electoral violence in the electoral process in Zambia”, he said.
Mr. Chipenzi says it is for this understanding that GEARS Initiative Zambia has been expecting serious action against the cited perpetrators and violators of the laws of Zambia by bringing them to book.
“As we noted earlier, GEARS Initiative Zambia expected for sincere apologies from, arrests and prosecutions of the agents of tribalism, hate speech, violence, and sectionalism as mentioned in the COI Report”, he added.
“In the same vein, we expected President Edgar Lungu, after reviewing the report, to have acted against those names mentioned as perpetrators of these vices and serving in his government and party in various positions ministers, Permanent Secretaries, District Commissioners and ambassadors, and party officials”, Mr. Chipenzi said.
He said if President Lungu is reluctant to act, it was their expectation that the Zambia Police Service and ECZ should have summoned their statutory mandates, power and authority to effect recommendations of the report and detect crime, maintain and enforce the law by invoking the relevant sections of the penal code, electoral Act, Electoral Code of Conduct and other laws on people mentioned in the report that instigated the Voting Patterns and Electoral Violence in Zambia especially during election times.
Mr. Chipenzi said the report should not just be treated or regarded as a mere study or analysis report or reference or study book or material but one that should serve as a deterrent mechanism for would-be offenders in the future.
“Above all, this report was produced at a great cost on taxpayer’s money hence our call to nip out of the bud individuals and institutions that have been promoting and failing to curb tribalism, hate speech, sectionalism and violence in the country”, he said.
Mr. Chipenzi said GEARS Initiative Zambia is anxiously waiting to see the police swing into action against those individuals revealed and mentioned in the report as agents of tribalism, hate speech, violence, sectionalism among other vices during elections regardless of party, religious and/or regional affiliation.
He said this is so because the police is there to detect and fight crime, maintain and enforce laws, of which one is the penal code which criminalizes tribalism, hate speech, violence, sectionalism, etc hence our view that police must now show its teeth, impartiality in fighting electoral and political crimes and offenses.
“Otherwise, the tribalism, violence, hate speech and sectionalism attributed and promoted by mainly by elites and those associated with state power should not be swept under the carpet”, he added.
Mr. Chipenzi said Zambians must unite against tribalism, hate speech, sectionalism and targeted violence which always manifest itself during elections if we are to build a better and united Zambia for all.