THE unruly conduct of UPND cadres who impounded and damaged Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) vehicles has shocked observers who have called on the police to act decisively to root out this conduct that has characterized the party.
ECZ Public Relations Manager Chris Akufuna confirmed that the Commission had informed all the parties including the UPND that 8 brand new vehicles were being imported to help service the 2016 elections.
The Commission had gone further to ask police to accompany the trucks and it was therefore baffling that the UPND in Sesheke and later in Livingstone hijacked the trucks, completely disregarding the presence of the police.
Mr. Akufuna said the conduct was unacceptable.
He said all political parties were informed about the purchase and transportation of its eight trucks from South Africa which the United Party for National Development (UPND) suspected to have contained pre-marked ballot papers.
And ECZ has reiterated its resolve to prove that it was transparent, credible and preforming its duty according to the provisions of the law despite external pressure from political party players.
Speaking on Millennium Radio yesterday, ECZ public relations manager Cris Akufuna said all the political players were informed about the trucks and had allowed them to inspect the trucks if they had any suspicion.
“But we were surprised that when the trucks reached Livingstone, a horde of UPND cadres demanded that they be searched despite the vehicle having been inspected and cleared at Katima Mulilo boarder post,” he said.
He said ECZ decided that the trucks be inspected again to clear any suspicion from the cadres but nothing was found.
“When you go towards election-day and especially when ballot papers have been brought in, there is a lot of hype, a lot of suspicion and expectation in terms of what is going on. The commission informed the political parties the way we were going to bring in trucks and these trucks were supposed to come in through Katima Mulilo, which they did and what we expected was cooperation from the political parties.
He noted that there was always suspicion about what the commission was doing in every election especially after the ballot papers came into the country as witnessed in the 2011 and 2015 elections.
He, however, explained that such pressures from political parties only provided an opportunity to the commission to prove itself by operating within the confines of the law.
“We expect criticism in a democracy especially when you talk about growing democracies where we are trying to put our feet on the ground in terms of appreciation of the democracy. The most important thing is even where we get a battering, have we done the right thing? Are we transparent and accountable enough and that is what we want.
“It is an opportunity to prove that we are doing the rightful thing and it’s according to the law and that is what is important,” he said.