Editor's Comment

Ban of campaigns welcome


THE ban of political campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala by the Electoral Commission of Zambia should send a very strong message to politicians that violence has no place in our society and that enough is enough.
President Lungu, ECZ and other concerned stakeholders have time and again prodded political players in the forthcoming elections to desist from engaging in violence, but it seems their messages have been falling on deaf ears.
Early this year, the ECZ organised a meeting where all political parties committed to ending violence, but this also seems to have had little impact because violence continued escalating, with death being recorded on Friday.
Just a few days ago, ECZ met with political parties on the need to abide by the electoral code of conduct.
At this meeting, ECZ warned political players that they risked being banned if they did not abide by the code of ethics, but it seems even this did not register a strong message in the minds of some of our politicians.
Barely a day after this meeting, United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres and the police clashed and a life was lost in the process.
Surely this cannot be allowed to continue because no one in politics is worth dying for.
The ban of campaigns, which is in accordance with section 28(2) of the electoral process Act No.2 of 2016 is, therefore, necessary to avoid a degeneration of the situation.
We implore all political parties to observe the ban by ensuring that they suspend all their scheduled rallies, meetings, processions or door-to-door campaigns.
During the ban, all branded vehicles are supposed to be parked and not be used for any purpose.
During this period, political campaigns are restricted to electronic and print media.
The commission has further threatened to suspend campaigns in Mazabuka, Monze and Gwembe districts among other parts of the country reported to be characterised by violence.
With 32 days before the elections, political parties should be maximising on selling their manifestos in a bid to claim any unclaimed votes.
But now with the campaign ban in Lusaka and Namwala, who is at the losing end? It is the politicians themselves.
Time and again political leaders have been urged to prevent their supporters from engaging in violent acts for their own good. President Lungu has used every platform to discourage political violence.
If supporters are killed as is the case of the UPND cadre during the clash with police, it means the party has lost out on a vote.
In the case of the clash in Chawama on Friday, police advised the UPND leadership not to go ahead with the rally because of potential violence but cadres mobilised and attacked police.
Political party leaders should educate their members on the need to be peaceful. They should not behave or speak in a manner that incites cadres to be violent.
Elections, being a game of numbers, politicians should understand better that every vote counts, so is every supporter.
Above all, peace-loving citizens will not risk their lives to go and vote if their safety is not assured.
Political violence has potential to increase voter apathy and this is not good for a country like ours, which has struggled with low voter turnout in the past elections, even in the absence of real threat.
For instance, it raised so much concern among various stakeholders that in the January 20, 2015 presidential election only 32 percent of the registered voters countrywide voted.
However, we commend politicians and political parties that have exhibited maturity by abiding to the electoral code of conduct but are also affected by the ban.
Political parties should use this time to reflect on their conduct and avoid jeopardising their campaign strategies and schedules in other parts of the country, for the remaining few weeks before the elections.
To all political supporters, lessons should be drawn from those who have died in the course of political violence that no leader is worth dying for.

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