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Zambia Opposition Demands Re-verification of Election Results

Polling agents guard ballot boxes as counting of ballot papers continues a day after presidential elections in Lusaka, Zambia, Jan, 21, 2015.
By Peter Clottey
Zambia’s main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) has called on the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to verify all the results of the presidential-by election citing evidence of voter irregularities it said undermines the credibility of the vote.

Canisius Banda, deputy president of the UPND in charge of politics, said the verification has to be done in the presence of all the political parties, stakeholders and the independent election monitoring groups to ensure the winner represents the will of the people.

“We have evidence that this election has been rigged. There are gross irregularities, which the Electoral Commission of Zambia itself is aware of and has admitted that a number of results had been adulterated by people they don’t know. But we know the people, some of them are workers within the Electoral Commission of Zambia,” Banda said.

The ECZ is the only constitutionally mandated body to organize and declare the winner of any elections.

Election results so far released by the ECZ show ruling Patriotic Front candidate Edgar Lungu leading with a slim majority followed closely by Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND.

Banda said the election results being released by the ECZ should not stand.

“We have engaged the Electoral Commission of Zambia that for the sake of the growth and maturity of democracy, for the sake of national unity and peace, we must verify the results thoroughly all the results. This must be done before any winner is declared. So that the declaration is based on truth and nothing but the truth," Banda said.

Zambia’s electoral law stipulates that any political party that disputes the outcome of the election could petition the Supreme Court within 14 days of the declaration of the final results of the vote.

But, Banda said the UPND would not wait to legally challenge the outcome of the vote.

“We want the verification to be done first. The winner must only be declared after the verification. We do not want to go to court after the declaration that would be a waste of time,” said Banda. “All we are calling for is that let us be patient even if it takes a week, let us all verify with all other political parties and all these question marks that the ECZ has, we have, other political parties have, let them be removed before declaration is made.”

The electoral commission routinely provides all political parties with verified results as part of its transparency policies.

Some international poll observers have said the election was credible.

Banda said the electoral commission has room for improvement.

“The Electoral Commission of Zambia should be commended. It’s an institution that must be strengthened collectively as citizens…So this is an institution if the UPND, given a chance, would make independent,” he said.