In 2021, the United States seeks to promote free and fair elections that are held without violence and reflect the will of the people of Zambia. The ability of individuals in Zambia to exercise freedoms of expression, including for members of the media, and peaceful assembly during the campaign and electoral season is foundational to a strong democracy. Minimizing violence and intimidation is critical to the fulfillment of Zambia status as a peaceful nation. Zambia benefits from a 30-year heritage of democratic elections with two peaceful transfers of power, and it has served as a model of political stability in Africa. U.S. government engagement in support of democracy in Zambia includes:
- Diplomatic Engagement: The United States maintains robust and regular diplomatic engagement with ruling party officials, opposition party leaders, civil society, election authorities, and the private sector to communicate the importance of our countries’ common democratic values and to encourage free and fair elections. A core message of our diplomatic engagement emphasizes the central importance of upholding democratic electoral principles. The United States supports Zambian democracy as a neutral partner and urges restraint and nonviolence.
- Public Outreach: U.S. public engagement efforts emphasize mutual interests and highlight that restrictions on fundamental freedoms and access to information may undermine the spirit of the democratic process, lead to violence, and could undermine confidence in the election results. Public statements and social media content with partners communicate these values. U.S. Embassy programs also support media professionalization programs that strengthen journalism and reporting skills, seek to ensure equal airtime access for all parties and candidates, and maximize public access to information. Additionally, U.S. Embassy officials engage via radio, television, print, and social media on the importance of freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression, including for members of the media. U.S. advocacy for peaceful and responsible citizen participation reaches an extensive audience across Zambia, including historically disenfranchised groups such as women, youth, and persons with disabilities.
- Technical Assistance: The U.S. government, primarily through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), supports the Zambian election process through programs that focus on the following key issues:
- Increased Credibility and Fairness of Political Processes: Local civil society organizations identify and prioritize electoral framework and policy reform to develop and implement advocacy strategies to strengthen the election system and increase the representation of disadvantaged populations. S. support also enables citizens to undertake nationwide monitoring and observation of key electoral processes, including voter registration, campaign management, and election day polling. This helps prevent, detect, document, and expose potential electoral malpractice, fraud, manipulation, intimidation and violence, and illegal interference in the electoral process. U.S. support to the Human Rights Commission also improves the identification, investigation, and follow-up of electoral-related allegations of human rights violations and abuses.
- Electoral Systems Capacity Building: S. programming via the United Nations Development Program strengthens the capacity of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to respond to findings from domestic observers and civil society, provides technical assistance to the ECZ and the Ministry of Justice for elections-related legal drafting, and strengthens ECZ’s elections administration, stakeholder management, voter education and dispute resolution capabilities. To combat increasing partisan violence and threats to freedom of expression and to participation, this area of programming also enhances electoral officers’ conflict management and crisis response skills through a nationwide training program and through opportunities for election officials to share these best practices.