Government officials and District Commissioners (DCs) violated the electoral code of conduct in the just ended Mangango Parliamentary by-election by using public resources to campaign, Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) director Priscilla Isaacs has stated.
And Mrs Isaacs has said there was nothing ECZ could do about government officials who breached the electoral code of conduct because the commission had limited powers to punish electoral offenders.
“I told the MMD when they were in government and have been yelling at the PF government to lead by example by conforming to the electoral code of conduct. If the PF does not lead by example, other political parties will have no excuse to give for violating the electoral code of conduct,” Mrs Isaacs said.
Speaking during at the Southern African Center for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) and Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung political party summit in Lusaka, Mrs Isaacs said the commission could only go as far as condemning political parties found violating the electoral code of conduct.
“As a commission we need power to ban political candidates breaking the electoral code of conduct in any by-election. Even if our demand for more powers went into Parliament I doubt if it we would get the desired support from all the political parties,” she said.
Mrs Isaacs said the tendency by political parties exporting their cadres into areas where there were by-elections was causing violence and advised the leaders of political parties to refrain from the vice.
Meanwhile the commission’s public relations manager Cris Akufuna cited the Mufumbwe, Livingstone, Rufunsa, Mukaika and Mangango as the most violent parliamentary by-elections since PF got into power.
“We have had 21 by-elections since 2011 and out of all the Mufumbwe, Livingstone, Rufunsa, Mukaika and Mangango parliamentary by-elections were the most violent and most of the deaths were recorded,” Mr Akufuna said.
“Ferrying cadres from Lusaka to areas that had by-elections was the greatest challenge which we have been facing. And if you have observed all the by-elections that recorded violence involved cadres ferried from Lusaka,” MrAkufuna said. He said the political violence had a negative impact of the electoral process and tends to promote lack of free and fair elections.