The Republic of Zambia has been holding regular general elections every five years since the reintroduction of plural politics in 1991. This has been, “Great Experiment in Democracy,” and since 1991 voting has given the Zambian public the sovereign power. In this year, that sovereign power rests at its core on voting. The administration of the vote has long been fraught with partisan politics, and this has been increasingly true in recent years with the growth of political polarization, compounded by the growing ability to use social media as a disruptor. But the single most great crisis of this electoral cycle — the viral Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic, ensuing unemployment and economic distress, and the movements calling for social and racial justice — make the conduct of the 2021 election especially critical.
As the Political Science Association of Zambia, we believe that all eligible Zambian citizens should be able freely, safely, and securely to cast their one vote, should they so choose even under health distress brought about by the COVID 19. To make the 2021 general election a more perfect election for our young democracy requires urgent commitment and resources from the Zambian government and the donor community. We fully understand that the COVID 19 pandemic makes the necessary attention and dedication of resources difficult, but failure to let the people” have their say will damage our democratic gains in the short run and threaten to undermine it completely in the long run.
We therefore call upon the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to coordinate on an administration of elections and voting on Election Day itself as safe, secure, and efficient for all eligible voters as possible. Anticipating that there will certainly be some very interesting election and that the pandemic will lead to new and complex procedures, we also call upon political parties to prepare now for an election campaign using procedures that will be accepted as legitimate by all, and we call on our government to allow time for a new electoral regulations on COVID 19. Finally, we also call upon our government to coordinate on a long term commitment of technical, administrative, and financial resources in a non-partisan way to make our elections as open, accessible, and free to all citizens as possible.