In Zambia, the Electoral Commission says each of the country’s political parties can only buy 30 minutes of airtime a week on the public electronic media during its campaign for the forthcoming elections. The Electoral Commissioner Justice Irene Mambilim says the new electoral act prohibits the media from announcing election results and from carrying editorial comments about the competing political parties.
Ms. Mambilim spoke to English to Africa to reporter peter Clottey about the country’s electoral act. “That is one of the requirements of the electoral code of conduct. That each political party should not buy more than 30 minutes of airtime in any one language, we have about seven different local languages on radio and TV and English that’s eight. So it means, each political party can only buy thirty minutes in each of these languages and not more.”
Justice Mambilim explains the reason behind the directive. “The rationale behind this requirement to ensure that the political parties, those who are weak financially are not disadvantaged, because if they were allowed unlimited time, it means those with a lot of money will steal the show. This is quite apart from the other programs, which we shall arrange ourselves. We believe that way, at least they will have equal status.”
She says, “Well you may have a lot of money, I’m sure there are other media houses. But if you have to use the public media, we believe that everybody must be treated equally.”
The electoral commissioner describes some of the up-coming programs for all political parties in this year’s tripartite elections. “We are going to arrange with the public media houses and probably other community radio stations. Some interviews with the candidates for them to sell their manifestos, their programs, what they think they will achieve for the people of Zambia, are going to have some documentaries on these political parties, who they are and so forth. These we are going to pay for them as electoral commission of Zambia.”
Mambilim says the commission was invited to observe Swedish elections. “To us, all these are a learning exercise because it appears now that all electoral management bodies, we seem to be developing some standard rules and procedures on how to conduct a free and fair elections. In as far as Southern Africa is concerned we have agreed on principles for elections management and monitoring. And most of those we are incorporating into our system.”
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