By SIMON MUNTEMBA
THERE is need for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ to ensure that no eligible voter is disenfranchised from voting on account of processes, and that everyone must be carried along including prisoners, says the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ).
And LAZ honorary secretary, Sokwani Chilembo said the association was deeply concerned with the continued countrywide electoral violence.
In a statement to the Daily Nation, Mr Chilembo disclosed that LAZ had paid a courtesy call on the ECZ on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at which a number of critical issues surrounding the electoral process were discussed.
Following the said engagement, he said, a 20-member delegation of LAZ led by its president Mr. Abyudi James Shonga, met with the ECZ and the Zambia Law Development Commission at Mulungushi International Conference Centre on Friday, October 9, 2020 to review the proposed Bill on voting by prisoners in the forthcoming general elections.
“LAZ reiterates the need for ECZ to ensure that no eligible voter is disenfranchised from voting on account of processes, and that everyone must be carried along, including prisoners, subject to the guidance offered to ECZ by LAZ,” Mr Chilembo said.
Meanwhile, Mr Chilembo condemned the continued countrywide electoral violence and urged the ECZ to take necessary steps to curb the worrying culture of electoral violence.
He said it was LAZ’s firm position that electoral violence which undermined the fundamental liberties of the public to freely and fairly exercise their right to choose national leaders of their choice had no place in a democratic society such as Zambia.
“We wish to restate that we frown upon and strongly condemn all forms of electoral violence. Elections are a civilised way of participation of citizens in the governance of the country. Electoral violence diminishes the national values and principles enshrined in Article 8 of the Constitution. Therefore, free and fair elections are a cornerstone of every democratic State that espouses its values,” he said.
Going forward, he said, LAZ feels that the ECZ has sufficient powers to punish offenders, and must accordingly act when faced with electoral violence, regardless of the political party involved.
“We take judicial notice that the ECZ has wide powers under the law to punish perpetrators of electoral violence which include but not limited to disqualification of a political party in breach of the electoral code of conduct from taking part in an election. It’s time that such powers are invoked so as to preserve life, property, democratic values and principles,” Mr Chilembo said.
He also said that the association was committed to use, to the full extent, all legal tools at its disposal against perpetrators of political violence, should the unfortunate emerging trend which assaults the rule of law not stop.
Mr Chilembo urged all political parties to put the country’s posterity and prosperity first and prevail over their members who were in the habit of perpetrating electoral violence, to desist from the vice henceforth.
He said there was need for politicians to promote the rule of law, peace and stability of the country as citizens would be celebrating 56 years of independence this month..
By SIMON MUNTEMBA