THE United Party for National Development (UPND) has threatened that it will throw the country into chaos should the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) go ahead with its intention to print the ballot papers for the August general elections in Dubai.
UPND special advisor to the president Douglas Syakalima claimed that President Edgar Lungu was allegedly forcing ECZ to go ahead and print the ballot papers in Dubai, and threatened that there would be mayhem should the commission go ahead with their intention.
Mr Syakalima said he was calling on ECZ chairperson Justice Essau Chulu to put the interest of the country first rather than that of a particular political grouping because, according to him, Zambia would easily degenerate into lawlessness.
He claimed that many countries had gone into civil strife because of electoral disputes caused by electoral commissions which had failed to conduct fair, free and transparent elections.
“We have information that President Lungu is forcing ECZ to go the Dubai way but this is going to cause chaos in the country. People’s anger can easily override the police, the army and any other State security wings and we do not want that in Zambia because all we know is peace,” Mr Syakalima said.
However, investigations conducted by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) have revealed that the Dubai-based printing company, Algrairi Printing and Publishing House, has no court case in Uganda as alleged by some disgruntled people, ECZ chairperson Justice Essau Chulu has said.
Mr Justice Chulu said if Algrairi Printing and Publishing House had court issues in connection with electoral fraud, ECZ would have withdrawn its intentions of engaging the firm to print ballot papers for Zambia’s general elections.
Speaking when he appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance and Human Rights, Gender Matters and Child Affairs, Justice Chulu said there was no tangible evidence that the Dubai-based firm rigged the elections in Uganda.
Mr Justice Chulu has challenged anyone who had been casting aspersions on the commission to provide tangible evidence of electoral fraud involving Algrairi Printing and Publishing House.
He told the Cornelius Mweetwa-led parliamentary committee that those who were accusing ECZ of planning to rig elections had tarnished the reputation of the commission it had enjoyed over the years.
“We have gone through the documents of all the courts in Uganda and no such a thing has been found anywhere. There is no evidence anywhere; this is why we are challenging those accusing ECZ of conniving with the company in Dubai to provide tangible evidence,” he said.
Responding Patriotic Front (PF) Mpika Member of Parliament Mwansa Kapeya, Justice Chulu said if tangible evidence had been provided, the commission would immediately withdraw intentions of awarding Algrairi Printing and Publishing House.
Meanwhile, the commission has appealed to parliamentarians to allow the ECZ complete the process without interfering in the awarding of the tender process.
Mr Justice Chulu said all the 13 firms have been given another opportunity for scrutiny after which the commission would choose one firm to print the ballot papers for the August 11 elections.
He said the commission was advised by the ZPPA to give a hearing to all the 13 firms for the second time.
“ECZ is independent and autonomous, so please give us room to conduct the process freely,” Justice Chulu said.
He said the commission does not rig elections and had no idea how to rig elections.
Justice Chulu said when the commission was printing ballot papers in South Africa the same political party prior the elections accused the commission of conniving with the printing firm to rig the elections but when the results were announced they emerged victorious.
He reminded the committee how UPND humiliated themselves after impounding a truck in Chirundu suspected to have been laden with pre-marked ballot papers destined for Lusaka.
Justice Chulu said they looked shameful after verifying that the truck had no such content in it.