THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) yesterday failed to deliver polling materials and personnel to a number of polling stations across the country because of bad weather and other logistical problems, its director Pricilla Isaac has said.
Ms Isaac said that the commission had failed to deliver polling officers to some polling stations because most parts of the country had received heavy rains, making some of the areas inaccessible by road.
She said the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) had been of great assistance in the delivery of polling materials and personnel although bad weather had affected the smooth flying of helicopters.
Ms Isaac said in Mafinga constituency, out of the 29 polling stations, the commission had only managed to deliver polling materials and personnel to six polling stations.
And Ms Isaac has warned polling officers who will be found engaging in electoral malpractices that they risked being arrested and prosecuted because the commission did not want the electoral process to be discredited.
Meanwhile, police in Serenje has arrested a voter who attempted to vote more than once and the ECZ has said electoral officers and the police were on high alert to thwart any form of electoral malpractice.
Ms Isaac said at a periodical briefing on the status of voting that it was criminal for polling officers to engage in any form of electoral malpractice and that observers had been deployed in all the polling stations and were on high alert to curb electoral vices.
She said ECZ would not tolerate misconduct from polling officers because the commission was determined to ensure that the presidential election was fair, free, transparent and credible.
Ms Isaac said all the polling officers have been directed to religiously observe the rules and that those who would be discovered to be engaging in any form of electoral malpractice would face the law.
“Polling stations across the country opened on time but for the polling stations that opened late due to various challenges such as bad weather will be compensated. We have also asked polling staff to strictly follow the electoral rules and we shall not tolerate any misconduct. Those who will be found engaging in any form of misconduct risk being arrested and prosecuted. We have observers who are on high alert,” Ms Isaac said.
Ms Isaac revealed that there had been pockets, of violence in some polling stations stating that some political party cadres at Intercity and Kanyama were verbally abusing voters and threatening them if they were not going to vote for their preferred candidate.
She said it was unacceptable for political party cadres to storm polling stations and start intimidating voters as the people who were being insulted could easily change their minds and vote for another candidate.
“We have received reports that some political party cadres at Intercity and Kanyama were insulting voters. We want to remind political parties that it is unacceptable for cadres to behave like that. The people that are being insulted can change their mind and vote for a different candidate,” Ms Isaac said.
And Ms Isaac said it was the hope of the ECZ that whoever would be elected president after yesterday’s voting should seriously consider the enacting of the new Constitution that would have clauses to avoid what the country was going through.
She said it was difficult to conduct an election in the rainy season and it was important for the next president to move and quickly facilitate the enactment of the new and people-driven Constitution that would address the issue of elections after the death of a sitting president. “It is not our desire to have late delivery of polling materials and personnel. I hope whoever will be elected president from this election will think about the new Constitution so that we address the challenge of conducting elections in the rainy season. We have no control over the weather and when it starts raining, we cannot stop it,” she said.