Political Code of Conduct

Updated August 2006

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has issued a code of conduct, which is enabled by the Electoral Act (2006, 109), the Electoral (Code of Conduct) Regulations 2006 (“the Code”). These regulations govern not only the behaviour of political parties, their agents and supporters during electoral campaigns, but also that of the various mass media and election observers and monitors.

Enforcement

These regulations have legal force and contravention carries with it the possibility of a fine or up to a year imprisonment (Code 1996, 16). In terms of the Electoral Act (2006, 110-111) the ECZ may set up Conflict Management Committees to resolve conflicts. The Code (2006, 15(1)) requires that all unlawful actions and intimdatory conduct be brought to the attention of the relevant Conflict Management Committee and to the Zambian Police. The Conflict Management Committees may impose punishments that the ECZ determines by statutory instruments (Code 2006, 15(3).

Publicisation and compliance

Sections 3-4 bind political parties and the ECZ to the publicisation of the Code, the promotion of a climate conducive to free and fair elections and to compliance with the Code; all electoral candidates and political parties are required to subscribe to the Code in writing.

Rights, duties and prohibitions

All (except public servants) have the right to freedom of expression, debate, canvassing, assembly, the publication and distribution of party propaganda and advertising and protection from the law. Section 6 restricts behaviour that might lead to violence or abridge the right to freedom of campaigning. These include bans on:

  • Violent behaviour or inflammatory speech.
  • The carrying or display of arms.
  • Making false, defamatory or inflammatory allegations.
  • Arranging functions at the same time and place as a rival.
  • Impeding campaigning activities of rivals.
  • Plagiarism of other parties’ insignia.
  • Removal or destruction of campaign materials.
  • Bribing candidates or members of the electorate.
  • Using positions of power to coerce or bribe others.
  • Advocate behaviour that threatens national sovereignty and integrity or law and order.
  • Campaigning on election day.
  • The use of government transport for campaigning or transporting voters.
  • Discrimination on the basis of “race, ethnicity, class, gender or religion”.
  • Display objects or caricatures at public events that “ridicule, revile or scandalize any political party or its leader or the Government”.

Section 7(1) lays down duties of political parties, including that:

  • Parties establish and maintain contact with the ECZ,
  • accept the elections results,
  • direct members and supporters to comply with the code,
  • comply with the law in holding public meetings,
  • adhere to election timetables,
  • respect the environment,
  • hold public events in a peaceful non-discriminatory way, and
  • refrain from camping at polling stations.

Parties should abstain from using inflammatory language and materials and from defacing, removing or destroying materials issued by other parties or the ECZ (Code 2006, 7(2)). Party members are prohibited from disrupting or obstructing the public events of other parties (Code 2006, 7(3)). All people, including security personnel are prohibited from coercing or intimidating other (Code 2006, 8).

Duties of the Commission

The ECZ is obliged to:

  • Meet regularly with party representatives to discuss the election and campaigning,
  • prevent abuse of state resources,
  • supply timetables and notices,
  • punish acts that jeopardise the elections or contravene the code,
  • declare results without unreasonable delay,
  • prevent disruption or prohibition of public events,
  • protect electoral officials from victimisation,
  • ensure professional behaviour by state security organs,
  • prevent traditional leaders from exercising undue influence,
  • establish a formal relationship with the Zambia Centre for Inter-Party Dialogue,
  • create equality of opportunity for stakeholders,
  • condemn acts of the media aimed at victimising media officers implementing the Code.

Other actors

The Code also contains measures governing the behaviour of other actors in an election context. Section 10 is of relevance to law enforcers, sections 11-13 to the media and section 14 to observers and monitors.

References

ELECTORAL ACT 2006, [www] http://aceproject.org/regions-en/eisa/ZM/Electoral%20%20Act%202006.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 Mar 2010).

ELECTORAL (CONDUCT) REGULATIONS 2006, [www] http://aceproject.org/regions-en/eisa/ZM/Electoral%20Conduct%20Regulations%202006.pdf[PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 Mar 2010).

Published by Dr Charles Sinkala

I will go to the World, and when I come back, I will Liberate my people.

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