Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Christian Churches Monitoring Group Statement on Observation of the 3 February Parliamentary By-Election in Kabwata Constituency

5 February 2022

 I. Introduction

The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) observed both the pre-election period and election day for the 3 February 2022 Kabwata Constituency by election which was initially scheduled to take place on 20 January 2022, but was later canceled and rescheduled to 3 February 2022 following the resignation and withdrawal of one of the candidates in accordance with Article 52(6) of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia[1]. In the pre-election period, CCMG recruited, trained and deployed 10 Long-Term Observers (LTOs) and for election day, CCMG recruited, trained and deployed 131 monitors, one at every polling station in Kabwata Constituency. CCMG also deployed 5 ward supervisors who served as mobile monitors on election day. Election day monitors arrived at their assigned polling station at 05:30 hours and remained at their assigned polling station to observe the polling station setup and opening, voting, counting and the official announcement of results for the polling station. The objective of CCMG’s by-election project was to contribute to enhanced transparency and accountability of the Kabwata Parliamentary by-electionby providing systematic factual information on the conduct of the process, and inclusion by giving voters the confidence to participate in the electoral process.

II. Pre-Election Assessment

Despite the electoral environment being generally calm and peaceful, CCMG notes with concern three (3) incidents of violence which involved UPND as perpetrators while PF were victims in two incidents and community members in one, and one (1) use of inflammatory and insulting language. These acts violate the Electoral Code of Conduct and CCMG calls on the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to enforce the Electoral Code of Conduct and the Police to investigate all acts of politically motivated violence and punish the perpetrators. CCMG also calls on UPND and PF, to immediately take disciplinary action against those members responsible for these acts and for all political parties to ensure that members found perpetrating violence or other violations of the Code face consequences.

Voter education, particularly targeting women, youth, and persons with disabilities, was   low with 40% of CCMG’s monitors reporting witnessing or hearing of voter information/education activities aimed at youth, 30% reporting witnessing or hearing of voter information/education activities aimed at women, and 10% reporting hearing of voter information/education activities aimed at persons with disabilities.   CCMG calls on the ECZ, the District Voter Education Committees (DVEC), civil society organizations (CSOs), and the media to increase their efforts in future elections to provide accessible information to all voters, with a particular focus on marginalized groups and including information on COVID-19 mitigation measures.

III. Election Day Key Findings

Based on reports from CCMG’s 131 Election Day Monitors and 5 Mobile Election Day Monitors, CCMG finds that the Kabwata Parliamentary by-elections mostly followed the standard procedures for the set-up, voting and counting processes. All of CCMG’s monitors who deployed to polling stations were permitted to observe. At 1% of polling stations, polling officials did not check the fingers of potential voters for indelible ink prior to voting, and at 1% of polling stations, polling officials did not mark one (1) voter’s finger with indelible ink prior to voting. At 1% of polling stations, at least one (1) individual voted without the requisite documents (NRC). CCMG further notes that 50% of polling stations did not have Braille Jackets for blind voters while all other required materials were present at the start of voting, and that political party representatives were present in all polling stations. CCMG notes that ECZ officials and stakeholders generally adhered to the COVID-19 protocols, including the use of social distancing in the set up of polling stations (82%) and providing hand washing or sanitizing facilities (93%). These rates are comparable to the rates seen in the 12 August 2021 elections. The use of thermo scanners continues to be low (11% compared to 14% in the Chisamba, Kaumbwe and Lusangazi by-elections in October 2021, and  14% for the 12 August 2021 elections), and CCMG encourages continued and increased adherence to all COVID-19 mitigation measures set out by the ECZ and Ministry of Health.

At those polling stations where there were voters in the queue at 18hrs, all were given an opportunity to vote. PF party agents were present for the counting of ballot papers at 99% of polling stations while UPND party agents were present for counting at 98% of polling stations. In all the polling stations where there were party agents for PF, UPND and other parties or independent candidates, they all agreed with the results, signed the results forms and each was given a copy. At all polling stations, ballot papers were counted at the polling station where they were cast; all ballot papers were shown to all party agents and monitors present so they could see how each ballot paper was marked; all ballot papers were sorted into individual piles by candidate. At 100% of polling stations where PF or UPND party agents were present they agreed with the by-election results. At 9% of polling stations, however, results were not posted at the polling station for the public to see.

IV. Recommendations and Conclusion

CCMG will endeavor to engage with key stakeholders, including the ECZ, the Zambia Police, political parties, media houses and CSOs, to share its findings and key recommendations below:

Electoral Commission of Zambia

  • Electoral Reform: CCMG was concerned by the postponement of the Kabwata Parliamentary By-Election from January 20 to February 3 due to the withdrawal of a candidate who invoked article 52(6) of the Zambian Constitution, and calls on the ECZ to urgently engage with stakeholders to kickstart the process for electoral reforms based on identified gaps in the legal framework governing elections in Zambia 
  • Code of Conduct Violations: CCMG calls on the ECZ to actively investigate the following breaches of the Electoral Code of Conduct which occurred during the two weeks preceding the by-election: 3 incidents of politically-motivated violence, and 1 incident of use of inflammatory and insulting language. According to the powers provided in the Electoral Process Act, the ECZ should take action against parties, candidates, and others that violate provisions of the Electoral Process Act. Failure to do so creates an environment of impunity and undermines voter confidence in electoral processes.
  • Accreditation: CCMG continues to note that the ECZ’s accreditation procedures for election monitors are unnecessarily cumbersome, burdensome and complicated, and continues to recommend that the ECZ revise its accreditation procedures in line with international best practices and regional standards that the ECZ is party to, notably the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring, and Observation in the SADC Region (PEMMO). These include the simplification of the accreditation process; elimination of any requirement to provide the polling station where the monitor is to observe; elimination of the required multiple certified documents/application forms; and the elimination of the need to appear in-person for accreditation. Furthermore, CCMG notes that accreditation procedures continue to be applied unevenly by District Electoral Officers and recommends the simplification of these procedures and additional training for District Electoral Officers to enhance the transparency of the electoral process. CCMG further notes, with concern, the limit set on the accreditation of roving monitors for this by-election to one roving monitor per ward per organization, and urges the ECZ to refrain from imposing such limits on election observer groups as such acts threaten to undermine the integrity of an election.
  • Campaign Schedules: CCMG noted that the ECZ developed and publicised campaign schedules, as it has done in past by-elections. CCMG observed that the publication of campaign schedules appears to have reduced party clashes at campaign events in past elections and therefore the ECZ should continue to work with political parties and the Zambia Police to develop these schedules, post them on accessible platforms including Facebook and the ECZ webpage, and ensure they are followed throughout the campaign period.
  • Posting of Election Results and Online Release: CCMG notes that the Kabwata Parliamentary By-Election results were not posted at 9% of polling stations for the public to see, and calls on the ECZ to ensure that the results of any election are posted at all polling stations for the public as per standard procedure and for transparency. CCMG further calls on the ECZ to release the results of this and other elections on the ECZ website by polling station in an accessible format. 
  • COVID-19 Protocols and Polling Officer Training: CCMG encourages the ECZ to ensure that its officers are properly trained in COVID-19 mitigation measures throughout the set-up and voting processes, including social distancing, which was not maintained at 18% of polling stations during set-up.

Political Parties

  • Political Violence: Despite the electoral environment being generally calm and peaceful, CCMG notes with concern three (3) incidents of violence where UPND cadres were the perpetrators, with PF supporters as the victims in two (2) of these incidents and  and community members in one (1), and one (1) use of inflammatory and insulting language. These acts violate the Electoral Code of Conduct, a trend that was noted during the 2021 electoral process and continues without action by parties. CCMG strongly condemns the continued lack of action by parties and therefore calls on UPND and PF, to immediately take disciplinary action against those members responsible for these acts and for all political parties to ensure that members found perpetrating violence or other violations of the Code face consequences.
  • Campaign Schedules: CCMG calls on political parties to continue to collaborate with the ECZ and the Police to develop campaign schedules and to circulate these schedules to their campaign teams and supporters. Political parties should adhere to the agreed-upon schedules and ensure that their members refrain from harassing other parties at their campaign events.
  • COVID-19 Protocols: CCMG continues to call on political parties to enforce strict adherence to COVID-19 mitigation measures at all their activities, and notes with concern that adherence to these important protocols decreased throughout the campaign period, despite high infection rates experienced across Zambia during the electoral period. CCMG recommends that political party campaign teams appoint an official responsible for enforcing COVID-19 mitigation measures and for educating party members on COVID-19 prevention.

Zambia Police

  • Equitable Provision of Security and Response: CCMG commends the Police for providing security to contesting political parties and candidates during the campaign period. CCMG however calls on the Police to act quickly and transparently in investigating allegations of violence and ensure that perpetrators are dealt with in accordance with the law, while ensuring that parties and their supporters are able to campaign freely and in accordance with the campaign schedule and not face threats or politically-motivated violence.

Civil Society Organizations

  • Voter Education: Voter education remains a key component of the electoral process to enhance citizen’s participation in the electoral process. As CCMG monitors documented very low voter information/education by CSOs during the campaign, CCMG calls on CSOs to increase and enhance their voter education and information campaigns for future by-elections/electoral processes, particularly those activities targeted to the needs of women, youth, and persons with disabilities. CCMG notes the need to increase sensitization efforts on COVID-19 prevention, including mitigation measures for political and electoral activities by CSOs, in order to enhance compliance by stakeholders participating in electoral processes.

 Media

  • Voter Education and Information: As monitors reported a relatively low level of voter education and information through media, for future by-elections/electoral processes CCMG calls on local media to increase their efforts to provide citizens with accessible information on electoral processes, including sensitizing the public on adherence to COVID-19 mitigation measures at all times during the electoral process.

[1] Article 52(6) Where a candidate dies, resigns or becomes disqualified in accordance with Article 70, 100 or 153 or a court disqualifies a candidate for corruption or malpractice, after the close of nominations and before the election date, the Electoral Commission shall cancel the election and require the filing of fresh nominations by eligible candidates and elections shall be held within thirty days of the filing of the fresh nominations.