Zambia’s electoral commission is scheduled to begin a nationwide distribution of ballots Wednesday, ahead of the September 20 general elections.
Director of elections Priscilla Isaacs says representatives of participating political parties will inspect the voting materials before they are distributed.
The ballot papers, which were printed in South Africa, arrived in the capital, Lusaka Tuesday.
“The distribution will be done by road to the country’s 74 districts. It will start after we have verified that we have received all the ballot papers for the three elections for all the 6,456 polling stations,” said Isaacs.
She adds that security officers will be aboard the trucks as voting materials are distributed.
With less than a week until voting day, Isaac said the electoral commission is pleased with the preparations.
“[They] have gone very well because we were able to receive all our election materials in good time. Just this past weekend, we were able to finish distributing the non-security items,” said Isaacs. “So, we are on course because now the remaining items to be sent to the districts [are] just the ballot papers and other security items that go with [them].”
Political observers have expressed concern about incidents of violence in the run up to the vote. The capital, Lusaka, has seen an upswing of clashes between partisans of various political parties
Supporters of the ruling party and the opposition have accused each other of using violence as a means of intimidation.
The electoral body has warned leaders not to incite their followers, which could undermine the credibility of the vote.
Isaac condemned the violence and called on citizens to refrain from such acts. She adds that her organization will continue to work with political parties to diffuse tensions.
“We have been working very closely with the Zambia police. And what we have implored the Zambia police to do is to deal fairly but firmly with anybody breaching the law especially those being involved in violent activities,” said Isaacs. “There was a slight improvement [in violence] but unfortunately, last week we started getting reports of more incidents. But we are hoping that this being the last week of campaign [things will be better].”
Meanwhile, official campaigning ends Sunday, ahead of next week’s presidential, national assembly and local government elections.