Monday, January 12, 2015

Zambia: Peaceful polls lie in Zambians’ hands - SADC mission

The challenge and responsibility of peaceful, free and fair elections will lie in the hands of the Zambian people, says the SADC Electoral Observation Mission.

And SEOM head Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says the mission hopes that the January 20 presidential
 election will continue to attest to the region’s track record of upholding credible democratic elections.

Meanwhile, 65 observers, representing member states from the region will be deployed in all
the 10 provinces of Zambia to observe and consider the general conduct of the election.

During that official launch of the SEOM to the January 20 presidential election in Zambia, Nkoana-Mashabane, who is also South Africa’s Minister for International Relations and Co-operation, said it was the mission’s expectation that all political parties would conduct themselves in a manner that contributes to a peaceful and democratic election.

“This country has over the years conducted peaceful elections and has thus become a beacon of hope in democratic practice and culture. In the same vein, it is our expectation that these elections will continue to contribute to the enhancement of democracy in the region,” Nkoana-Mashabane said. “May this election be an indication of true citizenry participation in the political process, as the people of Zambia decide the party of choice.”

She said the region recognised that in a democracy, elections were part of a process rather than being an end in themselves.

Nkoana-Mashabane said elections were avenues through which countries of the region regularly sought mandate from the people.

“As the SADC Electoral Observation Mission, we have a responsibility as representatives of this region to observe whether elections have been held in a manner that is peaceful, transparent, credible, and free and fair. We will observe the adherence to constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom, rights of citizens and non-discrimination in voter registration…” she said.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the mission would continue to observe post-election reactions in order to determine the acceptance and respect of the election results by political parties as proclaimed by the competent national electoral authorities in accordance with the laws of the land.

She said the mission would engage with the leadership of Zambia, political parties, civil society organisations, the media as well as ECZ to be appraised of preparedness ahead of the election.

And SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the high turn-out of voters which had been recorded in previous elections in Zambia was a clear testimony of democracy in the country; upholding the democratic values and principles and willingness of citizens to participate in political processes.

-The Post

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