THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has dismissed claims by United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema that his votes were stolen and has challenged the opposition leader to petition the results of the presidential election to substantiate his claims.
And the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has declared the just ended presidential election which saw the election of Edgar Lungu as the 6th Republican President as free and fair.
ECZ director Priscilla Isaac said in a statement yesterday that following persistent allegations by Mr Hichilema that his votes for the 2015 presidential election were stolen, the Commission had decided to put the record straight and inform the nation that at no time did the opposition leader contested the results in all the 6, 455 polling stations and 150 constituencies.
Ms Isaac said when allegations of vote stealing started emerging, the UPND requested to participate in the process of verifying the results at Mulungushi International Conference Centre on 23 January, 2015 for the remaining 29 constituencies and the opposition political party and the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) were allowed into undertake the verification exercise.
Ms Isaac said prior to the request by the UPND to participate in the verification exercise, the opposition party presented to the commission collated results from 121 constituencies that had already been verified claiming that there were discrepancies in the results.
She explained that the UPND had swapped its results with that of the PF in three constituencies while the results from Mwembeshi Constituency were completely missing on the UPND schedule.
She said it was the observation of the ECZ that in Serenje constituency, the results for the UPND and the PF had been transposed on the opposition party schedule while the results from Itezhi Tezhi constituency had been repeated twice on their schedule.
Ms Isaaac explained that the results from Mkushi South and Lupososhi constituencies were equally swapped on the UPND schedule and that the officials from the opposition party acknowledged the anomalies on their schedule.
“The UPND officials acknowledged the anomalies on their schedules and it was confirmed that the ECZ schedule for the 121 constituencies was the correct record of the election results.
The commission therefore takes great exception to the allegations that Mr Hichilema’s votes were stolen when at no time after the announcement of the results did it receive a report that there was any dissatisfaction with the results by any of the contesting parties.
The Commission therefore wishes to advise Mr Hichilema to petition the election results in the Supreme Court as this is his democratic right rather than continued to malign the Commission,”Ms Isaac said.
And LAZ president George Chisanga said in a statement issued yesterday that ECZ conducted the election in an exemplary manner as it adhered to international best standards of conducting democratic elections.
He however advised the ECZ to sensitise voters on the importance of exercising their right to vote as the apathy experienced in the poll was worrying.
“LAZ deployed a total of 61 monitors in Lusaka, Southern and Copperbelt provinces to observe the elections.
The monitors reported that there was no interference with the voting process at polling stations except for female voters who were turned away for having nail polish and artificial nails,” he said.
Mr Chisanga also said the monitors reported violence between the Patriotic Front and the United Party for National Development.
He commended the procedure of counting and publication of results at polling station and also the suspension of the announcement of results to allow voters in 51 polling stations to cast their votes without any due influence.