Creating Avenues to Resolve Election Disputes: Conflict Management Committees in Zambia, 2001-2011

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Abstract 

In 2001, the Electoral Commission of Zambia faced a tense presidential and parliamentary election. The commission needed a new mechanism to stave off conflict, clarify responsibilities for dispute resolution, and provide complainants with an effective outlet for their concerns. Inspired by the use of a similar system in South Africa, the commission leaders developed conflict management committees at both the national and district levels. The committees—comprising representatives from political parties, law enforcement, civil society, and faith-based organizations—mediated conflicts related to violations of the electoral code of conduct. The electoral commission piloted the committees in the 2001 elections, before fully implementing and strengthening the committees at the national level and in the 74 electoral districts for the 2006 elections. The mediation system helped Zambia navigate an unexpected by-election following the death of President Levy Mwanawasa in 2008 and an opposition victory over the ruling party in 2011. Though some challenges remained, the electoral commission staff and committee members credited the committees with helping the country navigate competitive elections and reduce tensions between competing parties.

 
Rachel Jackson drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Lusaka, Zambia, in November 2012. Case published April 2013.
 
Associated Interview(s): Eric Kamwi, Priscilla Isaac
Keywords 
Zambia
Electoral Commission of Zambia
Conflict management
peace committees
mediation
electoral conflict
Election Violence
Priscilla Isaac
political party
political party liaison committee
election commission
dispute resolution
code of conduct
Focus Area(s): 
Reducing Divisive Effects of Competition
Elections
Critical Tasks: 
Election security
Legal framework
Peace councils
Training
Core Challenge: 
Dispute resolution (compliance)
Country of Reform: 
Zambia
Type: 
Case Studies
Author: 
Rachel Jackson