VOTING in Zambia’s presidential by-election entered day two yesterday after the Electoral Commission of Zambia allowed voters who failed to cast their ballots on Tuesday, owing to heavy rains that caused flooding in some areas, to vote.
An estimated 21 000 voters failed to vote on Tuesday after rains disrupted the ECZ from sending ballot papers to the affected areas on time.The commission has since roped in the Zambian Air Force to help uplift the ballot papers. People were still voting in the affected areas at the time of going to print.The ECZ had announced the results from 14 constituencies before it decided to stop announcements.It argued that announcing the results would influence voting in those areas where people were still to choose their preferred candidate.Of the 14 constituencies announced, Mr Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front had won 11 while the United National Party for Development’s Mr Hakainde Hichilema won three.
There are 11 candidates vying to replace Mr Michael Sata who died in October last year.Briefing the media at the command centre at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday, ECZ chairperson Justice Irene Mambilima urged patience among Zambians.“We have faced unprecedented challenges in conducting this election because of bad weather . . . Some polling stations can only be accessed by air. Due to heavy rains we found ourselves having more areas inaccessible by road. Many polling stations are still voting. It will be difficult for us to give you the time of the results because some people are still voting,” she said.Justice Mambilima implored PF and the UNDP to ensure their supporters observed peace throughout the country.“As a commission we want to appeal to citizens and political parties — please do not speculate on the results. We anticipate that by tonight everybody who intended to vote would have voted. We want to postpone the time to tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 10 am,” she said.
“The results are already in the public domain but it is the ECZ which has a mandate to announce the results. For political parties let us avoid premature celebrations. Let us keep peace until we declare who the winner is. Please bear with us as we discharge our mandate. PF and UNDP, if there would be violence in the streets it would be you. Who told you that you are the President already. We have no President until we tell you.”Justice Mambilima said the ECZ would not be pushed by anyone into announcing premature results. “PF and UNDP cage your cadres. We cannot have a premature announcement. We will verify each and every result. To the two political parties, cage your youths. You must be part of the democratic dispensation. Realistically, can you say the results have been delayed?”As ECZ was announcing the results and all pointing to a convincing PF win, UNDP leader Mr Hichilema and his supporters held a brief demonstrations outside the command centre around 10 am.This was before the ECZ had stopped announcing the results.Mr Hichilema claimed the elections were not free and fair but urged his supporters to wait until the ECZ announces all the results.He has since lodged a complaint with the ECZ and is challenging the independence of the commission.“Let us see what the ECZ will do. The truth of the matter is that these are our elections,” Mr said Hichilema.Heavily armed police ensured peace prevailed at the command centre .They were also patrolling streets in Lusaka late into the night.
PF secretary general Mr Davies Chama dismissed the UNDP as crybabies in an interview with The Herald.“Mr Hichilema is a bad loser. He is sensing that he has lost the election. He is crying like a baby. It is unfortunate because the election has been very peaceful. The people of Zambia want peace, they cherish peace and we have been peaceful as a nation,” he said.Mr Hichilema castigated Sadc and the AU in an interview with a local radio station. He claimed Sadc and the AU were known “for endorsing rogue elections”.If it all goes well, the winner of the presidential by-election might be sworn in tomorrow.