THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has suspended the periodical announcement of presidential election results until after voting in polling stations where the voting process was delayed due to bad weather and other logistical challenges has been concluded.
ECZ chairperson Justice Irene Mambilima said yesterday that the Commission had decided to halt the tallying of the presidential election results so as to allow those who were still voting to exercise their right without undue influence of the results that were being announced.
Justice Mambilima said the commission had faced unprecedented challenges in running the presidential election mainly because of bad weather and that a number of polling stations across the country started voting yesterday because of the delay in the delivery of polling materials and personnel.
She said the Commission could not continue announcing the results while other people were still voting, stating that the Commission was determined to conduct a free, fair transparent and credible election devoid of any vices.
She said voter apathy had hit lowest levels at 33.7 percent of the total registered voters and attributed the low turnout of voters to poor weather across the country.
She said while ECZ had no objection to political parties, monitors and other stakeholders conducting Parallel Voter Tabulation (PVT), it was important that the concerned parties kept the results to themselves.
She said about 51 polling stations with a total number of 21000 voters received voting materials and personnel yesterday and that voting in the affected areas would continue up until midnight.
“You must know that the presidential election came about by the operation of the law which demands that a presidential election must be held within 90 days after the demise of a sitting president. We have faced unprecedented challenges in this election because of bad weather. We have those polling stations such as Mitete where ballots have to be transported by boat to some point and later use ox-carts, and these one started voting today (yesterday) and we are not going to continue announcing results while others are voting. This may have undue influence on their decision on whom to vote for if they hear that one candidate is leading. We will resume tallying of results tomorrow at 10 hours,” Justice Mambilima said.
Justice Mambilima said it was the sole mandate of ECZ to announce results and that political parties and other interest groups should avoid falling into the temptation of announcing their results.
She said the results in the affected polling stations would only be expected to today adding that as soon as voting was completed, the commission would resume tallying of the results.
Justice Mambilima said the Commission had a meeting with United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema after the opposition party had raised concerns that the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) had withdrawn their flying permit to monitor their results in polling stations across the country.
She said Mr Hichilema complained that ZAF had withdrawn the UPND officials flying rights even after the Acting President had authorized and that the matter had since been dealt with.
She said it was not strange for the Commission to meet leaders of the political parties adding that on Tuesday, the Commission had a meeting with Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general Davis Chama over allegations that ECZ had contracted a private television station to transmit results.
And Mandevu PF Member of Parliament (MP) Jean Kapata accused Justice Mambilima of having failed to provide clarity about political parties conducting PVT, cautioning that some online publications were publishing outrageous and alarming results that had the potential to cause anarchy in the country.
Ms Kapata said the PVT being conducted by some online publications were misleading and urged the Commission to order political parties and observers to stop using PVT to gather results.
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has denied reports suggesting that it had conducted PVT whose results had projected Mr Lungu as having won the presidential election.