THIS election must be one of the most closely scrutinized plebiscites ever held in this country.
There are monitors from outside the country and private tabulations by local interest groups including internal oversight by political parties that are represented at almost all the polling stations in the country.
It will be very difficult for any party to manipulate the results because these are made public as soon as they come out at every polling station. Therefore suggestions that an inbuilt system of rigging has been employed cannot be further from the truth.
That is why it is unfortunate that the police were forced to disperse cadres from Mulungushi International Conference Centre, who obviously had gathered to demand the immediate declaration of results because their candidate had won.
It is gratifying that the situation did not deteriorate further, but it must be understood that allegations of wrongdoing by the Electoral Commission of Zambia will seriously undermine its credibility and therefore the outcome of the entire exercise.
The main contending parties must exercise serious restraint in order to assure their members that the ECZ is working towards declaring a result that will be credible and therefore acceptable to all the various parties that participated in the election.
There is no doubt that the scale of figures amongst the two contending parties is such that it raises anxieties, trepidation and in some cases exaggerated expectation.
The block figures from Lusaka contrasting with the block figures from Southern Province naturally play a factor in the wider expectation of the outcome but this should not be taken out of context and in total isolation from the situation on the ground which in reality includes the less populous constituencies which still have to be taken into account.
Although some form of picture has emerged in the last 24 hours and indeed Transparency International has provided results from 60 constituencies which show that the PF is leading, there are still 90 constituencies to go, and given the apathy and disparate dispersal of the population no final determination can be made until the very last constituency has been counted and delivered by the ECZ.
We join those that have called for patience to allow the ECZ complete its task in good time so that the final results are not subject of litigation, challenge or indeed serious dispute that could very easily divide the country.
If Transparency International as a private body can systematically catalogue and tally results there is absolutely no reason why the ECZ which has got far more resources, far more personal and a higher ability to communicate cannot be trusted to handle the final verification.
Zambia has enjoyed peace and it would be unforgiveable if this by-election was to be the source of conflict and rancor that would rob us of the status of being an oasis of peace.
We appeal to all parties to heed counsel from ECZ Chairperson, Justice Ireen Mambilima, admonishing all to maintain their peace.