By OLIVER SAMBOKO
DESPITE the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) being empowered by the law to manage elections and regulate its conduct, it has failed to eliminate violence more especially committed by parties in government, says McDonald Chipenzi.
He also emphasized the need to have the political will to fight against electoral violence by all political parties’ leadership more especially the head of State.
Mr Chipenzi, who is GEARS Executive Director, submitted to the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, Human Rights and Governance, that while Article 45(2)(b) Electoral Process Act guides that electoral process and system of administering election shall ensure elections are free from violence and intimidation, ECZ has failed to enforce these provisions.
“However, despite the Electoral Commission of Zambia being empowered to manage elections and regulate its conduct, to suspend, reprimand, summon, sanction among other punishments, it is clear the Commission has failed to eliminate violence more especially that associated with ruling parties,” he said.
Mr Chipenzi said sister organisations such as the police have also fallen in the same trap by falling to apply the law on the offenders, resulting in unending violence during elections.
He also said despite the laws outlawing hate speech, intimidation, harassment and corruption, these crimes have been committed unabated because the law enforcement agencies have been uncooperative to respect this provision of the law hence the violence in self-defence.
He also said formation of security wings by political parties which usually act as militias is also responsible for the violence.
Mr Chipenzi said political violence should be stamped out because it is detrimental to the growth of democracy and effective participation of citizens in political affairs of the country.
He said political violence has a negative impact on national development and donor confidence as it scares away investors and provisions of donor support in various sectors.
Mr Chipenzi said GEARS is confident that electoral violence can be curbed if only all the stakeholders are willing to end the vice and existing law is applied and enforced impartially.