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CCMG Statement on the Conduct of Voting and Counting for the 9 June 2020 Bulilo, Nakato and Imalyo Local Government By-Election

Summary

The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) has been observing the entire electoral process for the Bulilo, Nakato and Imalyo Ward by-elections. As part of this effort, CCMG deployed three (one observer for each ward) long-term observers (LTOs) to observe the general political environment in Bulilo Nakato and Imalyo wards during the period before Election Day.

For Election Day, CCMG recruited, trained and deployed a total of 19 observers, including 16 Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) Monitors, to every polling station in Bulilo (4 Monitors), Nakato (4 Monitors) and Imalyo (8 monitors) Ward. CCMG also deployed three Ward Supervisors who served as mobile monitors throughout the wards. PVT Monitors arrived at their assigned polling station and polling stream at 05:30 hours and remained there throughout the polling station setup, voting, and counting until the official results for the councillor election for the entire polling station were publicly announced and posted. The objective of CCMG’s PVT project was to make the Bulilo, Nakato and Imalyo Wards by-elections more transparent by providing systematic factual information on the conduct of the process; more accountable by independently verifying the accuracy of the official results as announced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and more inclusive by giving voters the confidence to participate in the process.

CCMG had all its 19 Election Day observers accredited by the ECZ on 6 June 2020 and all 16 observers deployed to polling stations by 05:30 on 9 June 2020 were permitted to observe.

Findings from Election Day

Setup and Opening of Polling Stations

  • 15 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that polling streams were open by 06:30, and all polling streams with CCMG Monitors were open by 07:00;
  • 15 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that an agent for PF was present at polling streams during opening and setup;
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that an agent for UPND was present at polling streams for opening and setup;
  • All 4 CCMG Monitors in Bulilo reported that an agent for MCE was present at opening and setup;
  • All 8 CCMG Monitors in Imalyo reported that an agent for NAREP was present at opening and setup;
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that the ballot box was shown to be empty before being closed and sealed at the polling stream; and
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that their polling stream had a voters’ register, the correct councillor ballot papers, the official stamp/mark, and permanent/indelible markers for marking voters’ fingers.

Voting Process

  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that election officials stamped every ward councilor ballot paper with the official mark/stamp at the polling stream;
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that indelible ink was applied to the finger of every voter;
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that no one was allowed to vote whose names were missing on the voters register despite having their NRC and Voter’s Card;
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that no one was permitted to vote if they did not have their NRCs and Voter’s Cards with them;
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that no one was allowed to vote who had indelible ink on their thumbs or fingers;
  • 8 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that some (less than half) able bodied women (not physically disabled) were assisted to vote by a man; and
  • All CCMG Monitors reported that no unauthorised persons were present at any time during the voting process.

Counting Process

  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that all party polling agents present were permitted to observe the counting of councillor ballot papers;
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that there was sufficient light during the counting of councillor ballot papers;
  • 15 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that a representative for UPND was present during counting;
  • 15 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that a representative for PF was present during counting;
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that polling officials showed the councillor ballot papers to all party representatives so that they could see how each was marked; and
  • All CCMG Monitors reported that at polling stations with party agents present, party agents representing PF and UPND agreed with the councillor results, and signed a copy of the official results form (GEN 12). All CCMG Monitors reported that if present, all party agents were given a copy of the form (GEN 12).

Posting of Results

  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that the councillor results for the entire polling station were posted for the public to see.

Accessibility of Voting for People with Disabilities

  • 13 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that polling streams had Braille jackets for blind voters;
  • In 4 of 16 polling streams, voters had to go up the stairs to reach the polling stream. All these polling streams were located in Imalyo Ward;
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that there was sufficient light during the voting process;
  • 16 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that people with disabilities, pregnant women and nursing mothers were allowed to go to the front of the queue at polling streams.

COVID-19 Mitigation Measures

  • All CCMG Monitors reported that their polling stream had hand washing/sanitizing facilities;
  • All CCMG Monitors reported that ECZ officials were using COVID-19 protective wear, such as masks and sanitizers;
  • 1 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that a few (less than 20) were turned away and not allowed to vote as they did not comply with COVID-19 mitigation measures, including the sure of face masks;
  • All CCMG Monitors reported that social distancing (1 metre) was maintained between all persons in the set up for the polling stream; and
  • 15 of 16 CCMG Monitors reported that social distancing (1 metre) was maintained in the voting queue.

Participation of Women

  • CCMG reports that of the average five ECZ officials in polling stations, an average of three were women; and
  • CCMG reports that more than half of security officers present at polling stations were men.

Critical Incidents

On the evening of June 8, a CCMG Monitor reported one critical incident related to harassment, intimidation or threats. In Nakato Ward, a group of party supporters armed with pangas were reported heading to the camp of another party. The police were alerted and the group dispersed. No further incidents took place after the police left, however the party supporters continued moving around the area.

Key Findings from the Pre-Election Period

Voter Education/Information

All of CCMG’s observed voter education/information conducted by the ECZ in their wards, however CCMG observed Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Bulilo Ward only, and local media conducting voter education/information in Bulilo and Imalyo Wards. CCMG’s observers reported limited voter education/information targeting women and persons with disabilities, but did not report any voter education/information targeting youth. CCMG also observed voter information/education on COVID-19 mitigation measures in all three wards.

Election Preparations

As part of the preparations for the 9 June By-Elections, the ECZ held nominations on 19 May and all of CCMG observers observed that all procedures for filing nominations were followed and that the environment in Bulilo, Nakato and Imalyo Wards was calm and peaceful throughout the nomination process.

Political Parties Campaign Activities

All of CCMG’s monitors witnessed or heard of campaign activities in each of the three wards by both the Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND). Other parties were observed conducting campaign activities in both Bulilo and Imalyo Wards. All of CCMG’s monitors witnessed or heard of police providing security at campaign rallies. CCMG Monitors reported an instance of a vehicle with no number plates distributing food to party supporters in Nakato Ward, and an instance of handouts in Imalyo Ward. CCMG also observed parties providing COVID-19 supplies to supporters in both Bulilo and Imalyo Wards. None of CCMG’s observers reported any instances of any party/candidate prevented from conducting a campaign activity in a public place, or in prohibited places. CCMG also did not observe any instances of government vehicles being used for campaign activities.

None of CCMG observers witnessed or heard of any instances of disruption during campaign activities nor any government restrictions on the campaign. CCMG did not observe instances of any traditional or religious leaders using their influence to support a particular party or candidate. CCMG did not observe any instances of political party youth wearing military attire or masks, nor any instances of political parties transporting youth from outside of the constituencies where the wards are located.

Politically-Motivated Violence, Use of Hate Speech and Other Electoral Offences

CCMG did not observe any case of use of language which is inflammatory, defamatory or insulting or which constitutes incitements to public disorder, insurrection, hate, or violence or war. None of CCMG’s observers observed any incidents where a party supporter or voter was sexually assaulted for political motives, nor observed any form of intimidation or harassment against a candidate or his/her supporter. Additionally, CCMG did not observe any violent physical attacks during political campaign events. CCMG did not observe any instances of buying of voter’s cards, nor any instances of parties arming their supporters.

COVID-19 Prevention Measures

CCMG’s Monitors observed adherence to COVID 19 prevention measures during candidate nominations by both the ECZ and aspiring candidates in all the wards. Furthermore, observers reported witnessing or hearing of voter education/information on COVID-19 mitigation measures for the by-elections. These measures included the use of face masks, hand washing and social distancing.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Electoral Commission of Zambia

  • ECZ should collaborate with stakeholders to intensify voter education to the citizenry and special focus should be made to target women, youths and persons with disabilities.
  • ECZ should continue to engage with political parties, CSOs, traditional leaders, and all other relevant stakeholders on the need for non-violent campaigns and to ensure adherence to the Electoral Code of Conduct by all stakeholders.
  • ECZ should continue to guide all participating political parties in an election to strictly follow the agreed campaign schedules throughout the period. Allowing others to disrupt such a programme risks violence and must be avoided.
  • ECZ should continue to work with stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health, on COVID-19, highlighting the mitigation measures that are in place and also provide information to voters and political parties on how they can conduct campaigns while observing such measures as strict hygiene, wearing face masks and keeping social distancing during the campaign period and election day.

Zambia Police

  • The police should work with political parties without fear or favour to ensure a peaceful campaign period. The Public Order Act should be used fairly to all participating parties.
  • The police should maintain a safe environment for media, citizens and political parties to enjoy their rights particularly the right to assemble.

Political Parties

  • Political parties should adhere to campaign schedules published by the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
  • Political parties, and their supporters, must refrain from harassing and threatening journalists and/or voters as they carry out their duties during the campaign period and beyond.
  • Political parties should follow COVID-19 prevention measures set out by the ECZ and the Ministry of Health in their campaigns.

Civil Society Organizations

  • CSOs should conduct targeted and coordinated voter education and information campaigns, and with consideration for the needs of women, youths and persons with disabilities.
  • CSOs should adopt and continue sensitisation efforts on COVID-19 prevention as part of their civic education efforts

Media

  • Public and private media should play their role in providing equal and balanced coverage to all contesting political parties and candidates and uphold high journalistic standards and ethics.
  • Public and private local media should conduct voter education and information programmes aimed at informing citizens of their rights in participating in electoral processes.

Voters

  • Voters must adhere to COVID-19 mitigation measures set out by the Ministry of Health and those by the ECZ related to the voting process itself. These include the use of face masks, social distancing and hand washing.

Conclusion

The 9 June Bulilo, Nakato and Imalyo Ward By-Elections were held in a calm and peaceful environment for both the pre-election period and on election day. CCMG commends ECZ’s effort to publicize campaign schedules for all three by-elections in an effort to reduce politically-motivated violence and urges the ECZ to continue to publicize and enforce campaign schedules for future elections. CCMG further recognizes the Commission’s efforts in ensuring adherence to COVID19 preventive measures before and during elections, as well as other stakeholders, including political parties, largely following the public health guidelines. CCMG commends voters in the wards for braving the cold and following public health guidelines to cast their votes for their preferred candidate. Finally, CCMG would like to thank all its 16 PVT Monitors and 3 Long-Term Observers for monitoring the 9 July 2020 Ward ByElections.

Overview of CCMG

The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) is an alliance of four faith-based organisations formed to help promote credible elections through non-partisan citizen monitoring. The CCMG partner organisations are Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ); Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ); Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR); and Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), formerly the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), through Caritas Zambia. CCMG was founded ahead of the 20th January 2015 presidential by-election. CCMG is a member of the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM) (https://gndem.org/) and conducts all of its observation efforts in conformity with the Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations (https://gndem.org/declaration-of-globalprinciples/). CCMG is strictly independent and non-partisan. We support no political party or candidate.