Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Christian Churches Monitoring Group expresses concern over pre-election violence in Zambia

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The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) has said incidents of violence recorded prior to the 20 April Ward By-Election in Chililabombwe and Serenje District and Mpolokoso can not only undermine the credibility of the by-elections but also have the potential to stir instability.

The ruling UPND won the three local government by elections with huge margins.

CCMG recruited, trained and deployed two Long-Term Observers to observe the pre-election environment in Chitimukulu Ward in Chililabombwe and Muchinda Ward in Serenje Districts and further recruited, trained and deployed eleven (11) election day monitors, stationed in 2 (two) polling stations of Chitimukulu Ward and nine (9) polling stations of Muchinda ward.

CCMG Steering Committee Chairperson Bishop Andrew Mwenda said all political parties should restrain their supporters by taking practical steps in educating their members on the Electoral Code of Conduct and to expel any party members perpetrating violence.

Bishop Mwenda said Police, Anti-Corruption Commission, and other relevant law enforcement agencies should act immediately and thoroughly investigate all reports of violence, intimidation and vote buying and arrest perpetrators irrespective of their political affiliation.

‘While the electoral environment leading to the by-elections was generally calm and peaceful, CCMG noted with concern serious incidents of violence in Muchinda ward of Serenje district, which if left unchecked, may not only undermine the credibility of the by-elections but also have the potential to stir instability. Our appeal goes to all political parties to restrain their supporters by taking practical steps in educating their members on the Electoral Code of Conduct and to expel any party members perpetrating violence and any violations of the Code, and party presidents and leadership should be quick to condemn any violent actions of their own supporters. Going forward, it is our expectation that the Electoral Commission of Zambia will take time to reflect on the many violations of the Electoral Code of Conduct by political parties without any sanctions thus far. This is an opportunity for the Commission to call for electoral reforms both legislative and administrative in order to address many underlying challenges with electoral management,” Bishop Mwenda said.

“Further, ECZ should take practical steps towards full implementation of the 2011 High Court Judgement of Sarah Brotherton vs ECZ in order to make elections more accessible to persons with disabilities. CCMG observed that in all polling stations, voters had to use steps to reach the polling station making it difficult for those using wheelchairs to independently access the polling station. Furthermore, CCMG calls on the Zambia Police, Anti-Corruption Commission, and other relevant law enforcement agencies to act immediately to thoroughly investigate all reports of violence, intimidation and vote buying and arrest perpetrators irrespective of their political affiliation. CCMG commends the voters who exercised their democratic rights in the 20 April by-elections. Finally, we thank our 2 LTOs who worked tirelessly to document events leading up to the poll and the 11 election day monitors who deployed to their polling stations at 05:30 and remained there until the announcement of the Councillor results,” he said.

The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) is an alliance of four faith-based organisations formed to help promote credible elections through non-partisan citizen monitoring.

The CCMG partner organisations are Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ); Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ); Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR); and Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), formerly the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), through Caritas Zambia.

“CCMG noted with great concern isolated incidents of violence in Muchinda Ward of Serenje District involving UPND and Socialist party supporters. CCMG recommends that the ECZ effectively enforce the electoral code of conduct by sanctioning those violating the code through disqualification and others sanctions as provided for in the law.Campaign Schedules: We commend the ECZ for sharing a detailed and well-timed campaign schedule in both Chitimukulu and Muchinda wards ahead of the by elections. We call on political parties/candidates to ensure strict adherence to campaign schedules, and on the ECZ to ensure strict enforcement of the same.Monitor Access: CCMG noted marked improvements on understanding of access requirements for monitors/observers by polling officials and commends ECZ for improved training of officials for this by-election. However, CCMG continues to urge the ECZ to adopt accreditation best practices as submitted by a consortium of CSOs in February 2022 to ensure the right of observers to monitor electoral processes is not restricted.Disaggregated Data: CCMG urges ECZ to provide more disaggregated data (gender, age and disability) of validly nominated candidates for future elections.Accessible Polling Stations: ECZ should take practical steps towards full implementation of the 2011 High Court Judgement of Sarah Brotherton vs ECZ in order to make elections more accessible to persons with disabilities. CCMG observed that in all polling stations, voters had to use steps to reach the polling station making it difficult for those using wheelchairs to independently access the polling station,” Bishop Mwenda said.

The Senior Clergy highlighted the key election day findings by CCMG.

“Based on reports from CCMG’s 11 Election Day Monitors and 2 Long-Term Observers, CCMG finds that both the Chitimukulu and Muchinda Councillor by elections followed the standard procedures for the set-up and opening, voting and counting processes. All of CCMG’s monitors were permitted to monitor. At 100% of the polling stations, polling officials checked the fingers of potential voters for indelible ink before voting and marked the voters’ fingers/thumbs with indelible ink before voting. At 100% of polling stations, no one voted without the requisite documents (NRC and voter ID) or had ink on their finger prior to voting. CCMG further noted that 27% of polling stations did not have Braille Jackets for blind voters while all other required materials were present at the start of voting.At polling stations with voters in the queue at 18:00 hours, all were given an opportunity to vote. PF and UPND party agents were present for counting at 100% of polling stations and at 91% of polling stations, polling agents for other parties (not PF or UPND) were present for counting. The party/candidates’ agents present in polling stations all agreed with the results, signed the results forms and each was given a copy. At all polling stations, ballot papers were counted at the polling station where they were cast; all ballot papers were shown to all party agents and monitors present so they could see how each ballot paper was marked; all ballot papers were sorted into individual piles by candidate. At 91% of polling stations, official results were posted outside for the public to see, however, the results were not posted at Mulilima Primary School-02 in Muchinga Ward, Serenje District,” Bishop Mwenda said.

4 COMMENTS

  1. There was isolated incidences of political clashes of supporters of main parties , but………..

    Those was isolated incidences of over zelos hyped up supporters………

    There was no state sponsored political violence like in past regimes…….

    there was no use of state marchinary to perpetuate violence like on past regimes

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  2. if the PF had won, the the elections would have been free and fair with isolated incidences of violence. This is a well known PF sponsored group.

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  3. Can ECZ investigate? i dont think so because ECZ officials were there in poling stations,vote buying was there,i wonder what kind of ECZ we have today but these people must be put in the achives so that that day people will be held accountable and jailed.ECZ LEKENI IFYABUPUBA kutunmpa uko,the evidence is there but what are you waiting for ECZ.What happened to kabushi and Kwacha.Can PF petition these by elections.

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