The continued myriad of allegations being levelled against the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) by the opposition political party UPND in the recent past few days, if not weeks or month, is not only unwarranted, but also a deliberate ploy to find reason for disputing the outcome of the August 11 elections.
The print media, therefore, ought to be very cautious with what it publishes because some of the recent stories are mere sensation calculated to demonise the ECZ and undermine the credibility of the forthcoming elections. Such conduct bereft of professionalism is uncouth.
What must be noted from the onset is that the ECZ is an autonomous electoral body promulgated by the Constitution of Zambia with the mandate to supervise the registration of voters and conduct elections. In view of the preceding, its functionalities are well formulated in the Electoral Act No. 12 of 2006 to ensure that it operates within the ambits of the law.
The reason we think it is extremely vital to underscore this point is to give guidance to some misguided individuals who may easily be misled into thinking that the ECZ is subject to manipulation by external authorities or individuals. The ECZ, like any other constitutional institution, enjoys the independence in the execution of their duties.
We do not think there is any reason for any interested parties in the forthcoming August 11 election to paint ECZ in black and yet their track record with regards to election management both in Zambia and the region is impeccable.
The integrity and magnanimity with which the electoral body has been able to conduct the elections in the past is clear for all to attest to how highly competent and dedicated a team of staff they are when it comes to ensuring they preside over credible, free and fair elections.
What is baffling is that the political party launching such scathing attacks in a bid to discredit the ECZ had in last year’s presidential elections made similar wild, alarming and unsubstantiated claims against the ECZ when a truck carrying chairs was impounded on Kafue road on allegations that it was laden with pre-marked ballot papers from South Africa. Did the truck have anything close to the alleged ballot papers? The answer is NO!
Last month, similar allegations were peddled against the ECZ wanting to engage a Dubai-based printing company, Alghurair Printing and Publishing Company, on the pretext that the same company had printed pre-marked ballot papers and other election materials for the February 2016 Ugandan elections, hence the electoral body was colluding with the ruling party to manipulate the outcome of the elections. We all know by now that those were mere tantrums devoid of an iota of truth.
It is blatantly clear going by this brief background that the persons making such allegations are frustrated, disgruntled and pessimistic individuals who have no campaign message to convince the electorates into giving them a vote come August 11.
We urge all political parties, the media as well as electorates to give the ECZ space to do their work independently without undue pressure because they have a proven track record of managing elections prudently.