ZAMBIA: “Postponement of Elections Erodes Confidence in the Electoral Process,” JCTR Says

By Odiwuor Opiyo

LUSAKA, JANUARY 14, 2022 (CISA) –“The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) notes with great concern the continued existence of ambiguities with regard to the current constitution, its interpretation, and more specifically, in this case, the weaknesses of Zambia’s electoral processes,” reads a statement by the JCTR dated January 13.

This comes after the cancellation of the Kabwata parliamentary by-election that was scheduled to take place on January 20, 2022.

According to the Electoral Commission of Zambia, the elections were cancelled under article 52(6) of the Republican constitution following the withdrawal of one of the contesting candidates from the race.

JCTR, however, faulted some provisions of the laws saying, “It is evident that some provisions of the current electoral laws present a serious political dilemma for a struggling economy such as that of Zambia. It is a known fact that with the current electoral legal framework, Zambia’s political system remains vulnerable to inconsistencies and unnecessary wastage of public resources. This wastefulness is unacceptable given that these resources would have been channeled to improving social service delivery to the poor and vulnerable communities in Zambia.”

The organization further called for constitutional and electoral reforms to enable the country to manage elections cost-effectively and stem a wave of nullifications of parliamentary elections.

“JCTR, therefore calls upon the government and all key stakeholders to urgently release a roadmap for a broad-based constitutional review process. We also call for a road map for a number of legal reforms, including the electoral process law, access to information legislation, public order law, loans and guarantees (authorization) law, just to mention a few,” said JCTR.

The centre also maintained that the review process should be urgently expedited, “to allow for sufficient consultations from various stakeholders,” and that the process should not be left close to the general elections in 2026.