ECZ awaits new Constitution

THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is ready to commence preparations to  conduct general elections in August once President Edgar Lungu assents to the Constitution of Zambia Bill into law, ECZ public relations manager Cris Akufuna said yesterday.

He said the only stage remaining for the Constitution Bill was President’s Lungu’s signature before  the ECZ could swing into action to begin preparations for elections in August.

“Once the President signed the Constitution Bill, the commission will then look at the requirements in accordance with the new law and find a way forward and perhaps come up with a time table that will be used to conduct that election,’’ Mr Akufuna said.

He said the Commission would have to put logistics in place to allow the smooth running of the election as stipulated by the new law.

Mr Akufuna said he could not speculate if the holding of the election by August would be attainable as the commission had to wait until the law was assented to and begin to put the necessary machinery in place.

On reports of early campaigning by some political parties,  Mr Akufuna said according to the Electoral Code of Conduct, the commission could only act once the election time table has been set.

He was reacting to advice from a non-governmental organisation Authentic Advocates for Justice and Democracy for the commission to address early political parties campaigns before the campaign period was announced.

‘’The Electoral Code of Conduct is very clear; it only comes into effect when an election time table has been announced. It is the Electoral Code of Conduct that determines what the commission will do in terms of the elections and the like,’’ Mr Akufuna said.

On concerns by the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) for the commission to formulate a system to allow Zambians from the diaspora to register and vote in next year’s election, Mr Akufuna said the commission could only address that issue once the Constitution was amended to include a law that allowed Zambians living abroad to vote.

He said the commission was not conferred with any powers to amend the Constitution to include such a provision.

Mr Afukuna added that the commission was mandated to follow the law in as far as the elections were concerned and the new Constitution did not have such a law.

‘’We are talking about amending the law to allow Zambians in the diaspora to vote, the commission does not have any powers to amend a law because allowing Zambians in diaspora to vote means that the law should be amended.

‘‘The commission is not mandated to amend the law, the commission is mandated to follow the law in as far as elections are concerned,’’ he said.