McDonald Chipenzi says the current confusion regarding the purported campaigns allegedly started by the ruling party is the more reason electoral experts have advised the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to consider making the electoral code of conduct applicable throughout the electoral cycle.
Yesterday, ECZ refused to take a position on the early campaigns that have been kick-started by the ruling PF, saying it has no jurisdiction to regulate any political activities outside the official campaign period as stipulated by law.
In a statement released to the media, ECZ spokesperson Margaret Chimanse said while taking note of the sentiments made through the media about the commencement of political campaigns by some political parties, all matters relating to political activities outside the prescribed campaign period are supposed to be managed by relevant law enforcement agencies that have the mandate to maintain law and order under the Public Order Act, Cap 113.
But Chipenzi, who is the executive director of GEARS Initiative, said although the commission was on firm ground regarding its jurisdiction on political activities in the country it was however derogating its electoral duty to “other non electoral institutions” to manage electoral related activities by not getting involved.
Chipenzi says if the commission does not get involved it will be blamed by other political parties.
“The commission is on firm ground in its observation with regards the political campaigns. This is why we have been advising the commision to consider making the electoral code of conduct applicable throughout the electoral cycle.
“Amazingly, the commission agrees that elections are a cycle and a one off event but inversely and in practice, the Commission seems to suggest that election related activities only happen in the 90-day campaign period declared by the Commission, the voting and the declaration of results and not outside these activities which is not a correct electoral account,” he said.
He has since called on ECZ to join the lobbying to make the code binding thorough out the electioneering process.
“By Ignoring the political campaigns currently going on in the country, the commission is basically derogating its electoral duty to “other non electoral institutions” to manage electoral related activities. The effects of this dereliction of duty by the Commission will lead to continued blame towards the commission by disadvantaged political players.
“The commission should join the lobbying and advocacy on making the Code binding throughout the electioneering process rather than passing such responsibilities to “other law enforcement agencies” who are not conversant with electoral related matters,” he said.
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