Civil society organisations should avoid partisan politics and play their role fairly in the August 11 general election campaigns, Caritas Solwezi director Philip Phiri has said.
Mr. Phiri said civil society was expected to manifest fairness and credibility during voter education, monitoring and the election observation process in Zambia.
He was speaking during a three-day civic voter educators training workshop held at Solwezi Falls College in Solwezi
“It’s important to have this training as we are stakeholders and bearing in mind that some, if not all, have undergone several trainings and participated in making the elections a success,” Mr Phiri said.
He said it was important for civil society to be non-partisan because Zambia was entering a new era in the area of politics and governance.
Mr. Phiri explained that it was a new political era because of the various developments that have been added to the amended Constitution. “The amended Constitution states that a presidential candidate can only validly be president if he receives 50 percent plus 1 total votes that have been cast, which we did not have previously hence the need for training,” he said.
Mr Phiri said that among some of the developments that have necessitated the training was the inclusion of a running mate and the academic qualification.
Mr. Phiri however noted that all the issues showed that the country was maturing in politics and governance. “The history of politics in Zambia demonstrates that the country is undoubtedly making big strides in democracy, from colonialism to multi-party in 1964 and the 50 plus one this year are signs of democratic development,” he said.
Mr. Phiri also noted that the democratic developments were testimony that the church was one of the key stakeholders in politics and issues related to governance.
He however said the church’s participation in politics should be an advisory role and not partisan politics. “As a church, we represent fairness and credibility to the whole process of the election from adoption of the candidates to the period when people celebrate their victory,” Mr Phiri said.
He said holding a successful incident-free election was a mammoth task that could be achieved if all stakeholders worked together freely and fairly.