SACCORD says campaigns based on verbal abuse do not help Zambians have a clear basis on which to judge presidential candidates.
Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes executive director Boniface Cheembe yesterday said political parties should utilise political rallies to sell their ideals, ideas and manifestos to the public so that they could make informed decisions on who they should vote for.
“We urge our leaders, both in opposition and government, to look out for divisive characters so that they do not spoil their images just in the interest of pleasing them,” Cheembe said in a statement released in Lusaka yesterday. “Political leaders should be made to account for their promises during campaigns. Therefore, the issue of focusing on ideas cannot be overemphasised.”
Cheembe said SACCORD had noted with concern the views from various members of the public who felt the January 20, 2015 election might be compromised as a result of the involvement of third parties whose roles were not clear.
He said there was need for political parties to continue conducting their campaigns in a peaceful manner and strive by all means to ensure that party members and supporters abide by the provisions of electoral laws.
“As the campaign mood begins to heat up, political parties in their efforts to subdue political opponents and win over voters will likely engage in all sorts of actions, some which might violate the law. We therefore want all leaders to ensure that they remain fully in charge of people who will be campaigning on their behalf. The leaders must in the same vein consider themselves responsible for actions of their supporters and that Zambians will not only judge the direct offenders but will also hold beneficiaries responsible for the violations,” he said.
Cheembe said SACCORD regretted the incident at a PF rally in Kabwe, where a supporter of PF candidate Edgar Lungu engaged in politics of character assassination against UPND president Hakainde Hichilema.
Cheembe hoped Lungu would also condemn such conduct.
And Cheembe urged the Electoral Commission of Zambia to ensure that it continues to build stakeholder confidence in the electoral process by ensuring that all their actions are transparent.
“We also note the positive improvements that the commission has continued to make in ensuring that suspicions are reduced whenever there are elections. We urge NGOs and political parties that will deploy monitors to ensure that only genuine people are engaged,” said Cheembe.
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