A CONSORTIUM of Civil Society and Student Organisations has advised foreign observers from countries that have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic to stay away from Zambia’s 2021 General Elections.

During a media briefing held today at Mika Lodge, the Democracy and Motherland Defenders Coalition (DMDC) said it was for the good of both Zambia and the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic to limit the entry of foreign observers from countries that have been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on behalf of the coalition, DMDC Spokesperson Andrew Ntewewe said the Electoral Commission of Zambia and Ministry of Foreign Affairs must lead consultations on how to prevent multitudes of foreign observers who come from countries where coronavirus has ravaged the nations and kills many of its citizens.

Meanwhile, the Coalition has disclosed it will recruit, train and deploy over 22,000 local election monitors to all the polling stations across the country during the August 12 General Elections. And Good Governance Zambia National Coordinator, Rodney Katongo, whose organisation sponsored the just ended two days training on election monitoring for national and provincial leaders of the Consortium said holding a credible and free election must be seen as a process not limited to an election day.

He said his organisation will work to partner with various civil society and student organisations who are committed to ensure free and fair 2021 general election. Mr. Katongo reiterated a call to local monitoring groups to prepare adequately if they have to contribute towards a credible, free and fair elections even in the absence of some foreign observers.
“Foreign observers, even though important to the electoral process, have a limited role of merely observing an election but it is local monitors who own the process that have a duty to ensure the country’s election are well managed. So even if we had to dispense with foreign observers who are ravaged by COVID-19, we must still prepare ourselves adequately to manage our own elections as a people,” he said.