Rigging fears baseless-ECZ

THERE is no room for the coming presidential election to be rigged as the management and transmission of the results will be done in a transparent manner and in the presence of the participating political parties and their agents, the Electoral Commission of Zambia has assured the United Party for National Development (UPND).

ECZ public relations manager Cris Akufuna said contrary to the fears by the UPND that the presidential election could be rigged by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), the commission was firmly in control and that the concerns by the opposition political party had been adequately  addressed.

Mr Akufuna said the commission had summoned UPND vice president Canisius Banda and gave him a hearing over his concerns and assured him that the presidential election would be free, fair, transparent and credible.

He said that the printing of the ballot papers in South Africa was done in a clear and transparent manner as all the political parties and their agents were represented and signed and certified the final print.

He said there was no special ink that was used to print a selected number of ballot papers meant for certain regions in the country meant to give undue advantage to the ruling party.

He explained that the distribution of the ballot papers was based on the number of registered voters in the polling stations and that the fears that some regions would receive less ballot papers to desfranchise a certain group of voters were unfounded.

“We called Dr Banda, the UPND vice president, and we met him and gave him a hearing. We addressed the concerns he had raised. We told him that the results will be transmitted in a transparent manner in the presence of all the participating political parties, their agents and the observers. We assured Dr Banda that there was no special ink that was used to print a selected number of ballot papers for regions where the UPND was strong,” Mr Akufuna said.

Mr Akufuna said the commission has since invited all presidential contenders to share with them how the election process will be conducted to allay any fears that the results would be tampered with. And Dr Banda said the UPND was happy that the commission had committed itself to conducting a free, fair and transparent presidential election, adding that his concerns were meant to alert ECZ of some of the covert and clandestine activities of the ruling party.

Dr Banda said it was important for ECZ to pay attention to the concerns of citizens and that his sentiments were not meant to criticize the commission or accuse it of intending to rig the presidential election next week.

He told the meeting which was chaired by ECZ chairperson Irene Mambilima that the UPND raised rigging concerns because of what some “malefactors” were planning to do so that the commission could immediately investigate and avert the possibilities of rigging.

“I informed the commission that the UPND had pieces of evidence of a very confidential nature which the ECZ needed to know. I informed the commission that our fears were real and informed by evidence. UPND had no intention to malign the commission but intended to strengthen it to thwart such acts that would be inimical to the clean process of the presidential election,” Dr Banda said.

Dr Banda said he was happy that Justice Mambilima highlighted a number of safeguards the commission had put in place to ensure that the election was truly free and fair.

Dr Banda told the commission that the continued peace and unity the country had enjoyed in the last 50 years depended on the presidential election next week.

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