GOOD Governance Zambia National Coordinator Rodney Katongo has applauded ECZ’s guidance to political parties to change their political strategies when campaigns for the August 12 general elections formally start.

ECZ head of corporate affairs Patricia Luhanga has said public gatherings, like rallies are high-risk events for the spread of the corona virus and that the commission recommends political parties use alternative means of communication. ECZ has recommended the use of alternatives like mobile address systems and leaflets. Ms Luhanga has further said the commission will be guided by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health on how to proceed with accreditation of international observers.

Commenting on the statement by ECZ, Mr. Katongo has said it is commendable that the commission has taken into consideration calls from various civil societies in Zambia asking ECZ to promote alternative ways of campaigning and to limit the number of international observers especially those from covid19 high risk countries.

Politicians should focus on door-to-door campaigns where covid-19 preventive measures can be adhered to and less on political rallies because social distancing at rallies is almost impossible. We recommend that political parties make use of all media platforms to package and disseminate their messages to the citizens, radio, television, social media and print media are great tools that can be utilized to share party manifestos.

Mr. Katongo has further said due to less public gatherings we will most likely enjoy peaceful elections. As proponents of good governance, we have noticed with sadness the increasing levels of political violence when political party supporters clash. The call by ECZ to restrict rallies will serve lives in a twofold manner; 1) It will reduce the spread of the novel corona virus whose death toll is increasing, 2) we are not likely to record deaths resulting from political violence as a result of clashes from party members.

Speaking in an interview Mr. Katongo said he is delighted to note that political parties have welcomed the recommendations given by civil societies. United Party for National Development (UPND) spokesperson Charles Kakoma said to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus, political parties should find innovative ways of getting their message to voters. Mr Kakoma said there are many ways political parties can market their manifestos without pitting people’s lives at risk.

Patriotic Front (PF) media director Sunday Chanda said the PF is aware that covid-19 is real, hence the need to adhere to the guidelines set.  Green Party president Peter Sinkamba said what the electoral body has proposed is what it (party) has been advocating.

Party for National Unity and Progress Highhive Hamududu said the party will promote electronic rallies through social media platforms like Facebook and town hall meetings to reduce physical contact.