CCMG Condemns Violence against Opposition Candidates and Harassment of ECZ Official by UPND Supporters

CCMG is acutely concerned with incidents of harassment in Kaunga Ward, Luangwa District, Lusaka Province and in Luumbo and Chishanga Wards in Gwembe District of Southern Province during the nominations process on April 11, 2024. We call on the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to investigate these incidents and enforce Electoral Code of Conduct and Section 83 of the Electoral Process Act No.35 of 2016. Allowing these incidents to continue without consequences undermines the integrity of Zambia’s electoral processes and falls within the ECZ’s mandate to sanction.

As reported by CCMG’s monitors deployed to observe the nominations process, CCMG notes with concern the harassment of an ECZ official and the attempted blocking of a Socialist Party candidate from filling their nomination by United Party for National Development (UPND) supporters in Kaunga Ward, Lusaka Province. Similarly, CCMG reports that the Lusaka UPND Youth Chairperson and other UPND members used insulting and derogatory language against Mr. Kabaso who was trying to file his nomination as independent candidate after he failed to do so under the Patriotic Front. CCMG notes with concern these acts which are a clear violation of the Electoral Process Act. CCMG condemns in the strongest terms harassment of the ECZ staff by UPND supporters and commends the actions of the ECZ Chairperson’s secretary in recording the harassment at Kaonga B. Primary School where nominations were being held. However, CCMG notes with concern that the ECZ and Zambia police did not respond to reports from the Socialist Party National Youth Chairperson that the Socialist Party candidate was being prevented by UPND supporters from accessing the nomination centre.

In Southern Province, CCMG notes with concern reports of violence in Luumbo and Chishanga Wards where UPND supporters attacked and injured Socialist Party candidates. In Luumbo Ward this resulted in the candidate being replaced and in Chisanga Ward the violence prevented the Socialist Party candidate from filing a nomination. CCMG confirms that the incident in Luumbo Ward was reported to the Police.
Acts of politically motivated violence and harassment violate the Electoral Code of Conduct and preventing a candidate from filing his or her nomination is a violation of Section 83 (2) of the Electoral Process Act which states that “a person shall not prevent another person from exercising a right conferred by this Act” We therefore call on the ECZ and Zambia Police to proactively address these issues regardless of whether they take place at the designated nomination center or at any point in a candidate’s attempt to file his or her nomination.

CCMG urges ECZ to strictly, transparently, impartially and swiftly enforce the Electoral Code of Conduct and sanction those parties and individual responsible for violating the Code. CCMG calls on the police to impartially protect citizens and candidates regardless of political party, and to investigate and bring to book the perpetrators of violence. We urge political parties to conduct their campaigns peacefully and adhere to the Electoral Code of Conduct and their campaign schedule, and to sanction their members found in violation of the Code. We further call on UPND and opposition political parties to desist from ferrying supporters outside of their home districts as this has been a major cause of political violence.