The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has noted with serious concern the escalating campaign violence ahead of the August 12, general elections, especially in Lusaka and some selected parts of the country.
ECZ Chief Electoral Officer, Kryticous Nshindano says if the vice is left to escalate, it will undermine the credibility of the elections and also the stability and peace of the country.
Mr. Nshindano has noted that the perpetrators of violence are mainly the Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND).
In a statement released to ZANIS in Lusaka today by ECZ Corporate Affairs Manager Patricia Luhanga, Mr Nshindano has reminded the two political parties that the Code of Conduct which their leaders swore oath to, applies to this period of campaigns and must be adhered to without exception.
“The Commission would like to categorically state that it will not hesitate to invoke the Electoral Process Act and suspend indefinitely all manner of physical campaigns for the two political parties should these violent acts continue,” he cautioned.
He added, “The Commission further reminds all political players that violence undermines the credibility of an election and our call to the leadership is that they should prevail over their supporters.”
Mr Nshindano further called on the police to swiftly arrest and present for prosecution all those that will be found in breach of the Code of Conduct.
“We call upon the police to perform their duties in an impartial and professional manner. The Commission will not allow the country to degenerate into lawlessness during this period in the name of electoral activities and further calls on the electorate and political party supporters to desist from engaging in violence as it is not worth dying for any political leader,” he emphasised.
The Chief Electoral Officer further advised the two political parties that they are risking their respective parties against applicable sanctions in the law, including disqualification.
“From now henceforth, the Commission will be following the activities of both the PF and UPND with keen interest and should this continue, both parties risk being suspended,” he said.
Mr. Nshindano has since encouraged all political players to be tolerant and promote co-existence as they are some of the key ingredients of a maturing democracy and the conduct of peaceful elections.