THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has dismissed claims by the United Party for National Development (UPND) that the commission connived with the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) to manipulate and rig the January 20 presidential election.
ECZ chairperson Justice Irene Mambilima said the commission had remained extremely transparent in the management of the presidential election and that the allegations by Mr Hichilema that the commission and the PF connived to steal his victory were unfounded.
Justice Mambilima said the UPND had representatives at every level of the electoral process including the printing of ballots, verification, and distribution and counting of the ballots and that if the results were manipulated or stolen, then Mr Hichilema and the UPND were accomplices to the alleged electoral fraud.
She questioned whether Mr Hichilema would accept the results should the final count be in his favour after having discredited the commission and the entire electoral process.
“ECZ has taken the trouble to bend backwards in terms of transparency in the management of the electoral process in this presidential election. The UPND had agents at every level to monitor the printing, dispatch, receiving, voting and counting of the ballots. The ballots were verified by the political parties and so if he claims we manipulated or stole his election, then we did it together with him,” Justice Mambilima said.
And Justice Mambilima said there was need for Zambia to have a new and people-driven Constitution that would effectively deal with the electoral lacunas such as having a presidential election after the death of a sitting president.
She said it was important that whoever was going to be elected president in this presidential election should seriously consider taking into account the presidential running mate so that the country did not have the burden of electing another president after the death of an incumbent.
She said the January 20 presidential election could not have been avoided because the constitution demanded that there should be a presidential election within 90 days after the death of a sitting president.
“We hope that those who will be in-charge of the Constitution-making process should take into account clauses such as the presidential running mate so that we could avoid what we have gone through. This we have learnt and we appeal to whoever would be elected president to ensure that we put together laws that will make the work of ECZ easier apart from empowering the commission take action against political parties that commit electoral crimes. We need to put our house in order and have a Constitution that would address challenges like having the elections in the rainy season,” Justice Mambilima said.