Lusaka, Zambia - Zambian President Michael Sata has commended the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) for valuing lives more than elections by postponing the Livingstone parliamentary by-election which was scheduled to take place Thursday.
ECZ chairperson Justice Irene Mabilima on Wednesday announced that the commission had decided to postpone the Livingstone parliamentary by-election, scheduled for 28 February, following violence that had trailed the campaigns that resulted in the death of Harrison Chanda, on Monday, according to an official of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF).
Police picked up more than 10 members from the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), including its leader Hakainde Hichelema and two UPND members of parliament in connection with the killing of Chanda who died after a clash between UPND and PF.
The UPND leader has been charged with proposing violence.
Reacting to the announcement from ECZ, President Sata on Thursday said the decision by ECZ is a lesson that violence will not be condoned.
“It is disgraceful and cruel that those who killed want to pretend to be victims,” President Sata said in a statement Thursday.
“We lost a member in Rufunsa at the hands of UPND; we have lost another member in Livingstone at the hands of UPND yet again. Clearly, these calculated acts of brutality are at the behest of the enemies of democracy whose political thrust is abominable hate and intolerance,” the head of state said.
President Sata said the UPND leadership ought to be mindful that violence breeds violence and no one will benefit from a culture of bloodshed in politics.
“As a civilised society, our central aim should be to compete on ideas and values; not insults, hate, intolerance and violence. No doubt, the UPND have decided that violence is profitable for them, which is why they shamelessly market their so-called ‘Mapatizya formular’, which is a coded language for attacking and maiming political opponents,” President Sata said.
“As a responsible government, sworn to safeguard, defend and protect lives and property in this country; we will not allow this culture to take root. And I call upon the UPND in particular and all stakeholders in the governance of our country in general to condemn this systematic reckless loss of innocent lives because it will not benefit anyone. I condemn this violence in the strongest terms possible and warn the UPND in particular to either change their approach or face the full wrath of the law.”
Justice Mambilima who announced that the Livingstone by-election will now be held on 14 March, said that there shall be no political party campaigns in form of political party rallies, meetings and door-to-door campaigns between 28 February and 14 March as the campaign period ended on 26 February.
She expressed concern at the rising levels of intolerance and violence by political parties during elections and the apparent disregard of the Electoral Code of Conduct.