The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) has declared that it will monitor the by elections in Luangwa, Kabushi and Kwacha slated for 15 September, 2022.
Candidates filed their nomination papers on Thursday ahead of the Luangwa Council Chairperson by-election and the Parliamentary by elections in Kabushi Constituency in Ndola and Kitwe’s Kwacha Constituency.
In a statement, CCMG – Steering Committee Chairperson Bishop Andrew Mwenda said the group has deployed Long-Term Observers who will monitor and report on the pre-election environment including, voter education activities by stakeholders, adherence to the Electoral Code of Conduct by political parties or candidates and media coverage of political candidate campaign activities.
Bishop Mwenda said CCMG wants proper enforcement of the Electoral Code of Conduct by both the Electoral Commission of Zambia and law enforcement agencies.
“CCMG will monitor the forthcoming by-elections by deploying Long-Term Observers who will monitor and report on the pre-election environment including, voter education activities by stakeholders, adherence to the Electoral Code of Conduct by political parties or candidates and media coverage of political party or candidate campaign activities. For Election Day, CCMG will recruit, train and deploy Election Day monitors to monitor adherence to Election Day procedures including opening and setup, voting, and counting procedures, and the official announcement of results. CCMG has several expectations of stakeholders as follows: 1. Monitors or Observers Accreditation and Access: CCMG expects the ECZ to provide sufficient kits and time for accreditation of monitors, observers and party agents, and the media,” Bishop Mwenda said.
Bishop Mwenda said CCMG is also proposing that Ministers being appointed as campaign managers or members of campaign teams by the ruling party should take unpaid leave from their official government duties.
“Appointment of Ministers as Campaign Managers: While the ruling party may be free to appoint its members who are Ministers as campaign managers or members of campaign teams, CCMG expects that where Ministers are appointed as campaign managers or members of campaign teams, they should take unpaid leave from their official government duties. This will ensure that they are not drawing a salary for the time they spent serving their party and not the people of Zambia. Further we expect that where such leave has been sought or given, a public record be kept and a public notice be issued for avoidance of doubt and in the interest of transparency,” Bishop Mwenda said.
Bishop Mwenda added:” Civil Servants and Government Agencies: Civil servants are required to be politically neutral and not take part in partisan politics. CCMG expects that all civil servants will remain politically neutral and not engage in partisan politics. Further, we expect that government agencies such as the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) will suspend all its activities of service to the Zambian people in arrears where by-elections are taking place. DMMU was in the past seen to be active in areas where by-elections were being held and, in some cases, its senior staff were spotted at political party events. Campaign Schedules: It is CCMG’s expectation that all political parties, and specifically the UPND, will factor into their campaign schedules any foreseen and planned campaign activity by the party President who is the Head of State and the Vice President to avoid instances where the Head of State’s campaign activities outside of the agreed to campaign schedule affect other political party campaign activities. We expect that all political parties and candidates for the three (3) by elections will work with the ECZ and the Police to develop campaign schedules and will adhere to the same in order to facilitate an equitable and even campaign environment.”
Bishop Mwenda further called for more citizen participation in the by-elections.
He added that CCMG expects the media, particularly public media, to provide equal coverage to all candidates in the coming by-elections as provided for in the Electoral Process Act.
“CCMG recognizes the role that the media plays in shaping opinion of society and thus expects that the media will remain politically neutral and balanced in their programing related to the by-elections. CCMG expects the media, particularly public media, to provide equal coverage to all candidates in the coming by-elections as provided for in the Electoral Process Act. Additionally, CCMG expects the media to provide voter information to enhance citizens’ participation in the coming by-elections. In conclusion, we would like to encourage eligible citizens to turn out in numbers and exercise their right to vote. CCMG will continue to play its active role in monitoring electoral processes and elections including the Luangwa Council Chairperson, Kabushi parliamentary, and Kwacha parliamentary by-elections and provide information through statements and its social media platforms,” Bishop Mwenda stated.
Bishop Mwenda signed the statement alongside CCMG Steering Committee Spokesperson Fr. Alex Muyebe of JCTR, Fr. Emmanuel Chikoya, the Steering Committee Member from Council of Churches in Zambia and CCMG Steering Committee Member Fr. Francis Mukosa, the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) Secretary General.