The National Conflict Management Committee has called for the timely resolution of electoral disputes while cases are still at latent stage.
National Committee Chairperson Rodwell Chomba said it is important for conflict management committees to examine and track the early indicators of impending electoral disputes with the purpose of foreseeing possible dangers in time and acting effectively before cases escalate into crises.
Bishop Chomba noted that resolving early warning indicators offer an opportunity to prevent the occurrence, escalation and re-occurrence of electoral disputes.
He said conflict management committees must therefore continuously conduct a stakeholder mapping of different electoral actors in order to identify and create a stable and peaceful environment in society.
Bishop Chomba was speaking in Kalabo district in Western province during an orientation of the district conflict management committee ahead of the forthcoming Muchatanga ward by-election scheduled for 4th November 2022.
“Strategically, there are different measures of early response available for conflict management committees at primary and secondary levels. At primary level this involves taking proactive measures with the view to building on the values and strengths of a community. At secondary level this involves taking action by resolving or referring cases when a conflict has happened,” he explained.
He noted that complexities of long delays, high legal fees, inflexibility and congestion of the litigation process are some of the factors which prompt aggrieved parties to increasingly turn to mediation as the best mechanism for resolving electoral disputes.
“Mediation has various advantages in that it is confidential, less costly and quick, flexible, produces or promotes greater degree of party control over the process and outcome as well as produces or promotes greater opportunity for collaboration and creative problem solving,” he said.
Bishop Chomba further said mediation produces and promotes the expression of emotions unhindered and therefore hastens the healing process and rebuilding of positive relationships.
He stressed that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has established national and district conflict management committees pursuant to section 113 of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 to resolve electoral disputes.
Meanwhile, the Kalabo District Conflict Management Committee has appealed to the Electoral Commission of Zambia to consider actualising the committees’ mandate to undertake preventive initiatives such as training, sensitisation, stakeholder engagement and other information, education and communication (IEC) programmes as provided for under the conflict management guidelines.
The Muchatanga ward seat fell vacant following the recent resignation of UPND councillor, Kaselo Kawewe, to join the civil service.
Three candidates namely Kahalu Bulombo of the Socialist Party (SP), Francis Mungomba of the United Party for National Development (UPND) and Nasilele Nasilele of the Patriotic Front (PF), are contesting the local government by-election.
Muchatanga ward has six polling stations with a total number of 3,624 registered voters comprising 1,433 males and 2,191 females.