Review Electoral Act

The people of Mangango on Tuesday went back to their various polling stations to choose their representative in Parliament after a marathon campaign run by various political parties which were canvassing for votes.

The campaigns in Mangango which started on a peaceful note however degenerated into violence which left a PF cadre, transported there from Lusaka injured.

The Patriotic Front (PF) and the UPND were the main culprits in the Mangango by-election with each of the two political parties accusing each other of being violent.

A pacifying meeting at the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) did not help at all and that the police refused to heed the advice to act impartially.

Obviously, this is not the way to go about politics 50 years after Independence when Zambians should be celebrating a peaceful co-existence of different tribes and political parties.

To cure this mischief, something should be done to avoid what we fear might happen during campaigns leading to the 2016 general elections.

This is the reason why we support Electoral Commission of Zambia chairperson Irene Mambilima’s suggestion that the current Electoral Act should review to give her organisation some power to penalise erring political parties.

We know the argument would be that the Electoral Commission of Zambia cannot be both referee and judge but what is the use of having a toothless referee to oversee the competition for power.

In Zambia, it seems, there is a growing propensity by some political parties to resort to physical reasoning at the expense of sound ideological public arguments to win the electorate’s support.

It is our submission that the Electoral Commission of Zambia should be empowered with an effective legal framework to superintend the conduct of political parties during the campaign period and even on the day of voting.

At the moment, all political parties know that the Electoral Commission is just a toothless body which only receives nomination without any teeth to bite erring players.

Zambians know that apart from appealing to political parties to conduct peaceful campaigns, the Electoral Commission of Zambia cannot do anything extra-ordinary that would drive fear in political parties and their candidates.

In simple lauguage, our electoral commission is a referee with neither a yellow nor red card.

Instead, the power of controlling political misdeeds in election is vest in a highly compromised Police service which gets orders from the ruling party.

Zambians should break away from this order of arrangement and  empower the Electoral Commission of Zambia so that the institution can be seen to be on top of things when it comes to election administration.

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