ALL political parties must adhere to the Covid-19 prevention guidelines as they conduct campaigns because careless interactions can serve as a conduit for the spread of the deadly virus.
Already, there are strong signs that some political parties will likely contravene the guidelines and the Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) against Covid-19, which the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has developed.
Evidently, some political parties went against the guidelines when their respective presidents went to file their nomination papers at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.
Thousands of political cadres gathered around the conference centre ad later streamed into other areas of the capital city.
Political leaders, therefore, ought to remind their members about the need to observe physical distance.
In good faith, the ECZ came up with the technical committee to work on mainstreaming Covid-19 prevention mechanisms and developed the SoPs for the electoral process.
The technical committee drew membership from the ministries of Information and Broadcasting Services and General Education.
The Ministry of Health was also on the committee with the Zambia National Public Health Institute and the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit.
Other important stakeholders on this committee were the Zambia Centre for Inter Party Dialogue, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Home Affairs, the Zambia Police, the Media Institute for Southern Africa and of course the ECZ.
This is an important aspect in the electoral process which, shockingly, is being overlooked already by some political parties.
Covid-19 is real!
Political parties must at all costs adhere to the guidelines and SoPs which have been developed for this particular election.
Zambia has already recorded one case of the Indian Covid-19 variant and hence the imperative need to be extra cautious.
The ECZ on its part has worked out measures to protect voters, election officials and other stakeholders.
Electoral officers at polling and totalling centres would use thermo scanners to check body temperature and will insist on mandatory wearing of face masks for people involved in the election process in all locations.
According to the ECZ, the rules of physical distancing shall be enforced at all electoral activities including stakeholder engagements, trainings, and queuing at polling stations.
It is the responsibility of all political parties to ensure that the electoral process is smooth and hence the need to develop alternative means of political interaction.
Social media platforms are very ideal for mass information dissemination across the country and beyond the frontiers.
Locally, fliers, posters and bill-boards can be of valuable use while the public address system could be used in townships to reach out to all voters.
Political parties could also utilise the door-to-door campaign system as long as they are in relatively smaller numbers.
It is also possible for political stakeholders to hold meetings in smaller numbers in various communities while sticking to the five golden rules.
All Zambians must take part in enforcing preventive measures!
At this crucial political juncture, it will be important for all citizens to stick to the rules so that the political interactions do not stamp a smudge on efforts to fight the deadly Covid-19.
Political leaders are the main actors on this score!