FDD challenges ECZ over campaign ban

By Nation Reporter

OPPOSITION Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) has resolved to take the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to court to challenge the electoral bodys decision to suspend campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala districts for 10 days.

On Saturday, the ECZ, in exercise of its powers under section 28 (2) of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016, decided to suspend campaigns in the whole of Lusaka and Namwala districts for 10 days with effect from July 9.

But the FDD has contended that Article 28 (2) of the Electoral Process Act No.35 of 2016 which ECZ cited as a legal basis for suspending campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala does not give the electoral body any powers to suspend political campaigns.

Spokesperson Antonio Mwanza said yesterday that what ECZ had done was illegal and that the FDD would seek legal redress in the Constitutional Court today.

Mr Mwanza said it was wrong for ECZ to ‘‘sanction us the victims of violence by putting up a blanket suspension on campaigns’’.

“Instead of inconveniencing innocent candidates and political parties, ECZ must sanction the individual candidates and political parties that are engaging themselves in electoral violence.

“You cannot punish innocent people for the wrongs of others. This is a grave miscarriage of justice,” he said.

Mr Mwanza said the decision by the commission to suspend election campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala was illegal and totally unacceptable.

He said the law clearly stipulated that individual candidates and political parties that abrogated the electoral code of conduct by engaging in electoral fraud must be penalised.

“Furthermore, Article 28(2) of the Electoral Process Act No.35 of 2016 which ECZ has cited as a legal basis for suspending campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala does not give ECZ any powers to suspend political campaigns. So what ECZ has done is illegal and we as FDD will seek legal redress,” Mr Mwanza said.

He accused the ECZ of no longer serving the interest of the general public but those of the ruling party.

Mr Mwanza said the ECZ was acting as an appendage of the ruling party.

Announcing the suspension of the campaigns in the two areas, ECZ public relations manager Crispin Akufuna said the electoral body had observed with dismay the rise in political violence in some districts which had regrettably resulted in injury, loss of life and damage to property.

He said Lusaka and Namwala districts had been of particular concern.

“During the suspension, there shall be no public rallies, meetings, processions or door-to-door campaigns. Further, all branded campaign motor vehicles in Lusaka and Namwala districts should be parked and shall not be used for any purpose.

“Campaigns shall be restricted to electronic and print media publicity and hate speech will not be entertained,” Mr Akufuna said.

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