Commission Secretary , Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ)
voter fraud, voter education, training, monitoring, election violence, election security, election management body, dispute resolution, depoliticization, conflict of interest, code of conduct
Electoral Commission Building,
Thu Nov 8 2012
Eric Kamwi, the Commission Secretary for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), describes the role of the ECZ in monitoring elections and providing forums for dispute resolution. To decrease the likelihood of violence during the 2001 elections, Zambia began to use Conflict Management Committees. These committees require the training of conflict managers who travel to districts and resolve challenges on the ground. They deal with issues ranging from bribery and vote buying to disputes over campaign posters and flags. Despite the overall success of the system, including the resolution of over 70 cases in 2006, Kamwi acknowledges that there is room for improvement. For example, the committees are seasonal and exist only during elections, requiring the retraining of personnel every five years. Additionally, even though the committees have the funding and the power to expose government violations of the electoral code of conduct, this has not deterred the ruling party from violating the code. Yet another challenge is ensuring that the quality of training within each district is of equally high quality. Each district receives the same training material and the same length of training, but varying levels of trainer ability lead to different outcomes. Kamwi concludes the interview by championing the Conflict Management Committee model and encouraging other states like Namibia, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to adopt it. He has high praise for the committees and hopes that conflict management becomes its own division within the ECZ in the near future.
At the time of this interview, Eric Kamwi was the Commission Secretary for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). He joined the ECZ in 2001 as Assistant Legal Counsel and worked his way up to the position of Commission Secretary in 2010 and head of the legal department as well. Kamwi’s responsibilities as Commission Secretary included convening meetings, recording information from those meetings, and providing general legal advice concerning elections. Before working for the ECZ, Kamwi practiced law with a private firm.