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CHIEF JUSTICE CALLS FOR EFFICIENT, IMPARTIAL ELECTORAL SYSTEM

By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA

THE electoral system can only be respected if it is efficient, independent and impartial to promote justice and transparency as Zambia heads to the polls, says Chief Justice Irene Mambilima.

Ms Justice Mambilima Has meanwhile called on the Judiciary to avoid activities that may show perceptions that the system is flawed.

She said this yesterday in Lusaka during the opening of the three-day colloquium on electoral justice and preparations for the 2021 general elections held under the theme: ‘Enhancing the administration of electoral justice.’

In attendance are judges, the European Union (EU), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).

Ms Justice Mambilima said judges were duty bound to protect political rights of citizens as well as ensure that election disputes were resolved in the quickest possible time.

“I wish to reiterate that the enhancement of the administration of electoral justice is cardinal. The system will only be respected if it is seen to act efficiently, displaying independence and impartiality to promote justice, transparency, accessibility, inclusiveness and equality.

“Any activities that may exhibit perceptions that the system is flawed must be avoided. Negative perceptions of the electoral system may have the desirable effect of jeopardising its credibility and cause electorate to question their perception in the electoral process or even reject its final results,” Ms Justice Mambilima added.

At the same event, ECZ chairperson Justice Esau Chulu lamented the increase in unwarranted law suits which were a strain on its  limited resources.

EU head of cooperation, Arnaud Borchard, said that an effective electoral system was critical to resolving any electoral dispute peacefully.

Mr Borchard called on the Judiciary to include the civil society, political parties, the media and Parliament to the electoral justice dialogue.

And UNDP resident representative, Lionel Laurens, said there was need to ensure that a robust and credible mechanism exists to manage and resolve any conflict that may arise before, during and after the August 12, 2021 elections.

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