By Nation Reporter
THE failure by political party cadres to listen to their leaders against engaging in violence is a sign of lack of respect for their party leadership, says Young African Leaders Initiative governance advisor Isaac Mwanza.
He said cadres in both the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND) have demonstrated lack of respect for their leaders who have always advised against violent activities.
Mr Mwanza was commenting on the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ)’s decision to disqualify candidates who encouraged violence in the campaigns for the August 11, 2016 general elections.
He said there had been increased breach of the Electoral Code of Conduct with reports of violence and intimidation of supporters between the two major political contenders.
“YALI has welcomed the warning by the ECZ to disqualify candidates who encourage violence and has called the Commission to exercise the powers granted to it by the Electoral Process Act to disqualify candidates.
“There is increased breach of the Electoral Code and escalating violence which include the removal of posters for Independents candidates in Kabwata, Mandevu and Matero and destruction of billboards for both the PF and UPND across the country which ECZ must deal with and show its teeth if sanity has to be restored in these campaigns,” Mr Mwanza said.
He explained that political parties must be reminded about the consequences of allowing members to engage in violence against opponents.
Mr Mwanza said the law required political parties to stop members from intimidating or encouraging violent behaviour against other political parties.
He said it was about time that ECZ enforced the law to compel political parties to comply with the law.
“Section 18 of the Constitution Amendment Act No. 1 is so clear that at the expiry of the 12 months from the date when President Lungu signed the Constitution on 5th January 2016, political parties that fail to comply with the Constitution on Constitutional requirements such as not encouraging or stopping its members from violence, those political parties shall cease to exist,” Mr Mwanza said.
He said the Commission should now exercise its powers as prescribed by the Electoral Process Act to disqualify ailing candidates who failed to comply with the law.
Mr Mwanza said illegal activities such as violence or failure to restrain members from intimidating opponents would compel opponents to commence court proceedings with the hope of invoking the provisions that would make these political parties cease to exist.