The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) has appealed to all political parties to refrain from acts of violence including hate speech, physical violence, and harassment and declaring “no go zones” during campaigns, and encourages political parties to observe and abide by the rule of law. This is contained in a Long Term Observation statement avail during a stakeholders meeting held at Kapingila House in Lusaka who included the media, representatives of political parties, Civil Society Organization (CSO) representatives and representatives of donor community.CCMG Chairperson who is also Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) General Secretary explained during the meeting that political parties have a responsibility to address the acts of violence ahead of elections for the sake of having peaceful elections. Rev Matale said “The church has never been biased in condemning violence because it does not speak in favour of any political party and so when we speak we condemn violence across the board”. CCMG is an alliance of four faith-based organizations, namely the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), and the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) through Caritas Zambia. In its recommendations to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) CCMG has suggested that voter education should be intensified in all the civic centres in the districts, that voter education on other aspects should start early given that there are new issues in the electoral process due to the amendment of the constitution and that ECZ should continue working with the same openness and inclusiveness it has exhibited in the electoral process thus far.CCMG recommended to the Department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship that it must address the issue of many people sharing the same National Registration Card (NRC) by digitizing the system to ensure that such issues are detected and corrected to avoid potential malpractices in the electoral process. CCMG also urged the DNRPC to address the problem of same identity card numbers given to more than one person adding that this will help to avoid complications arising when stakeholders want to participate in the electoral process but are found to have same identity numbers for instance during nominations or poll day, among others.
CCMG has also appealed to churches to encourage citizens to register as voters at the civic centers throughout the country given that the registration period at the civic centres will expire by February 29th with emphasis that CSOs and church groups should consider starting their voter education early given that there are new issues in the electoral process due to the amendment of the constitution.
“CCMG recommends to the Zambian Police Service to be professional in the execution of their duties to avoid issues of bias. For instance, they should be fair in the application of the Public Order Act when dealing with electoral stakeholders. To the media CCMG would like to appeal to the media houses to report issues accurately, fairly and objectively to avoid partisanship and bias in their coverage of political parties and political events during the electoral cycle,” the statement reads.
CCMG is anticipating that the Examination Council of Zambia (ECZ) will be key in the academic qualification verification process for political aspirants in this year’s electoral process due to the new constitutional provisions requiring candidates to have a Grade 12 certificate or its equivalent, and therefore CCMG has urged governments to adequately equip the Council in order to enable them execute their duties effectively.
CCMG is currently undertaking four monitoring efforts as the nation works towards holding general elections this year. These are: Long Term Observation (LTO), Voter Register Audit, Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT), and Voter Registration Monitoring (VRM) which was just completed. The report covers the period from 4th December 2015 to 31st January 2016. The CCMG Data Center received 398 reports from the District Monitors, which translates to 95%.