By Bright Chikele:
ZAMBIA Elections Information Centre (ZEIC) council of elders says police should immediately put in place measures to level the playing field and make it conducive for all contesting political parties to campaign freely and fairly.
In a statement, ZEIC council of elders chairperson Father Leonard Chiti stated that ZEIC was concerned with the apparent selective application of the Public Order Act by the Zambia Police Service which appeared to have skewed the environment in the campaigns for the August 11 elections.
“Currently, the application of the Public Order Act is largely seen as selective and unfair, and affecting the playfield. A credible election begins with free and fair campaigns, on a level playfield,” Fr. Chiti stated.
“Through the ZEIC platforms, the council has received numerous concerns from the citizens on this matter. Citizens do not want a situation where during this campaign period, some contenders are seen to be more equal than others, as we read in the famous story of the animal farm. For this election to be credible, we demand that the Police immediately put in place measures to make it conducive for all contesting political parties to campaign freely and fairly.”
Fr Chiti commended the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) for putting in place measures to arrest the growing violence. He however, urged the Commission to avoid implementing measures that bordered on infringement of civil and political rights of the citizens to effectively participate in campaigns.
“This is a very sensitive period in our country that requires all of us to be responsible, to preserve the peace and tranquility that our nation is known for. It is the role of the ECZ and the Police to ensure that the right mechanisms are in place to prevent violence and to ensure that the campaigns are conducted in a free and fair manner,” Fr Chiti stated.
He called on the Police to make every effort to protect the rights of all citizens to assemble, and not to shamelessly hinder the enjoyment of such rights as Zambians have experienced recently.
Fr Chiti stated that the Council of Elders also recognised that political players have a responsibility in controlling and preventing violence.
He urged them to support the efforts of the Police and the ECZ in ensuring free and fair campaign season.
Members of the Council of Elders include Dr Anna Chifungula, Mama Chibesa Kankasa, and Mr. Simon Zukas