Editor's Comment

Learn from ban

ECZ

IT BECAME necessary for Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to suspend all political party road shows across the country as they are in breach of not only COVID-19 protocols but also the Electoral Code of Conduct.Following the ban of political rallies as a means of reducing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), parties have merely converted the road shows into mobile rallies.The country has seen how road shows attracted huge crowds as political parties swept through the townships, central business districts and villages canvassing for votes.This has been happening as the COVID-19 third wave continues causing so much illness and deaths on a daily basis.No part of the country has been spared during the third wave,with all 10 provinces seeing a steep increase in coronavirus cases from what it was recently .As a result, the health sectoris overwhelmed as it is now operating at slightly over 100 percent bed occupancy and is still mobilising more bed space, which is not sustainable.Sadly , the country has continued to record a worryingly high number of deaths.Despite the warning by health authorities, the country continued witnessing more road shows as political parties and candidates sought to outdo each other .Ironically, despite the road shows being crowd pullers and ultimately super spreaders, they were not used to sensitise people about COVID-19.Politicians seemingly never bother ed to care whether people who turned up for road shows were either masked, observed social distance or indeed sanitised.The best way to minimise the spread of COVID-19 was to suspend roadshows so that there is minimum exposure. The other down side of the road shows was that they were turning violent as rival political groups attacked one another .Political parties took turns in conducting road shows in the townships. However, some of these events trigger ed clashes among rival political parties.This culminated into some ugly scenes on the Copperbelt,Mandevu and Mpulungu.There was a near -ugly case in Lusaka’s Kanyama Township on Monday when rival groups were almost coming to blows but quick action by police saved the situation.There is no way the sparring in the townships was going to continue and cause tension in the country .It is good ECZ is beginning to act by evoking powers that it already has in trying to manage the political situation because nothing justifies deaths, injuries and damage to property that have characterised some incidents. We urge all political players to adhere to the elections guidelines to prevent punitive action against them.It is inevitable that political rivals will cross paths but this should not ignite physical confrontation as has been the case in some instances.Many may have seen the ugly scene of United Party for National Development (UPND) supporters chasing an elderly man for merely having a Patriotic Front piece of cloth in Namwala.They caught up with him and
inflicted all sorts of blows on him.The triggers of violence in other cases were similar . Let’s be tolerant of each other . Surely,there is no need to get violent just because someone waves a rival’s flag in your face.This is provocative but the reaction must not escalate matters.We hope the affected political parties will learn lessons from this ECZ decision and will embrace peace and tolerance.




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