The Commonwealth Observer Group to Zambia has released its final report on the 2021 general elections, which saw Hakainde Hichilema become the country’s seventh president.
The 14-member delegation, led by the former President of Tanzania Dr Jakaya Kikwete, concluded that despite some challenges, including those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) was well prepared for election day and that the election, as a whole, was largely peaceful, credible, transparent, and inclusive.
Deployed across nine provinces of the country, the Group commended voters for turning out in significant numbers on election day to exercise their democratic rights.
They congratulated the ECZ, polling staff, political parties and their leaders, the Coalition for Peaceful Elections in Zambia (CPEZ), the media, and security forces for their respective roles in holding peaceful elections and ensuring a peaceful transition.
They particularly noted the commendable home-grown peace initiatives by the CPEZ that brought together the political leaders to sign a peace pledge in which they reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful elections.
The final report, which has been officially conveyed to the Government of Zambia and distributed to relevant stakeholders, builds on the findings of the preliminary statement that was issued shortly after the elections in August 2021 and provides a comprehensive assessment of the entire electoral process – before, during, and after the polls.
The report offers concrete recommendations on electoral reforms for consideration by authorities on practical ways in which the country could improve future elections in areas such as the participation of women, youth, and people with disabilities; the electoral framework and administration; pre-election campaigns; election administration; the role of the media; and the voting, counting and results-management processes.
Recalling recommendations made by the 2016 COG with regard to strengthening the participation and representation of women, the Group called upon the government to introduce mandatory quotas and adopt appropriate legislative measures to promote gender-balanced political representation.
The Group noted that measures should be taken to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to participate fully in the electoral cycle.
And while commending the changes in the law to allow the participation of prisoners in the polls for the first time in the country’s history, the group recommended that it should be refined to accommodate specific situations where a prisoner has been released or transferred before election day.
The Group also recommended strengthening the regulation of funding for political parties and the training of polling officials to iron out some of the inconsistencies in the execution of their duties.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland said, “I thank the Zambian authorities for inviting us to observe this historic election and I commend the people of Zambia for their inspirational commitment to a peaceful election. I also commend the key institutions in Zambia for their role in ensuring peace and delivering an orderly transition of power.”
The Commonwealth Observer Group and Secretariat staff played a crucial role during the elections. I applaud their efforts and I hope their recommendations will be received in the Commonwealth spirit of constructive engagement as part of efforts to improve future electoral processes.
“This is the third Commonwealth Observer Group to Zambia since 2006, demonstrating the Commonwealth Secretariat’s strong commitment to supporting democracy in Zambia. I will personally be following Zambia’s progress in implementing the Observer Group’s recommendations, and the Commonwealth Secretariat will continue to offer all necessary support to the people and government of Zambia in their journey of democratic development through our whole-of-election cycle approach.”
As is customary Commonwealth practice, the final report of the Group was finalised in Zambia before the Group’s departure.
Throughout the mission, they were supported by dedicated staff from the Commonwealth Secretariat led by Professor Luis Franceschi, Senior Director of the Governance and Peace Directorate.
In the months ahead, the Commonwealth Secretariat intends to undertake another follow-up visit to meet with stakeholders on the implementation of the observer recommendations.
We didn’t need the commonwealth observer group to tell us that the elections were fair, transparent and free .
We are Zambians and we excercised our civic duty by removing the most Corrupt government in Africa.
Where were the observers when PF was raping the country??
When will this group monitor the British elections? Oh no, they have to tell us how to live, how to conduct our daily affairs and inclusive human rights.
We expected nothing less from this colonial organisation. A waste of time. Let them sort out the mess in uk politics first. They have no idea the level of violence pf supporters were subjected to
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