Zambia’s electoral body advises political parties to refrain from holding public rallies due to COVID-19

LUSAKA, May 11 — Zambia’s electoral body on Tuesday advised political parties against holding public rallies ahead of the August 12 general elections in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), which announced that the campaign period will commence on May 12, said political parties should refrain from holding political rallies in order to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Speaking at a press briefing to announce standard operating procedures against COVID-19, ECZ Director Electoral Operations Royd Katongo said political parties must take full responsibility for what will transpire due to failure to adhere to the guidelines.
“We would like to remind you that the issue at hand is a matter of life and death and must be approached with utmost caution. The Commission, Ministry of Health, and respective agencies should not be blamed in case of any eventualities,” he said during the press briefing which was also attended by civil society organizations.
He said crowds and public gatherings have been identified as super-spreaders of the virus hence the need for caution as the country heads towards the holding of the general elections.
According to him, the guidelines will also be applied during the filing of nomination papers, voting day, and post-election reviews and he urged stakeholders to cooperate with the electoral body.
The standard operating procedures were developed by a COVID-19 technical committee which was established aimed at guiding stakeholders’ conduct in relation to the election calendar.
Zambia will hold the general elections on August 12, in which incumbent President Edgar Lungu will face 18 other presidential aspirants who have so far paid their nomination fees.