Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG)
For Free and Fair Elections
Pre-Election Day Statement on the 2016 General Election
9 th August 2016
The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) is an alliance of four faith based organisations formed to help promote credible elections through non-partisan citizen monitoring. The CCMG partner organisations are: Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ); Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ); Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR);and Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), formerly the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), through Caritas Zambia. CCMG was founded in ahead of the 20 th January 2015 presidential by-election.
For the 2016 general elections, CCMG has been comprehensively monitoring all electoral processes and the electoral environment since September 2015. Specifically, this has included monitoring of voter registration; inspection of the provisional voters’ register, and the nomination of candidates, as well as deploying long-term observers to all 103 districts in all ten provinces.
Overall preparations for the 2016 general elections by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) appear to be on track.
As noted in our previous reports, voter registration, voter verification, and nominations were all conducted generally in accordance with procedures and internationally acceptable standards, with opportunities for voters as well as parties and candidates to participate in these processes.
This builds on the elections the ECZ organised in just 90 days for the 2015 presidential by-election following the untimely passing of President Michael Sata. CCMG also monitored these elections and found them to be credible.
However, stakeholders have since raised various concerns during the pre-election period related to: electoral violence; inability of candidates to freely and fairly campaign; lack of impartiality by the police; unbalanced coverage by state media, gagging of the independent media as seen in the ”closure” The Post newspaper; the procurement of ballot papers; and registration of ineligible voters.
Further, we regret to note that with only two days remaining before the polling day, there are continued reports of political violence and intimidation. CCMG condemns any acts of political violence and intimidation in the strongest terms and calls on all political party supporters to adhere to the ECZ’s Code of Conduct.
Finally, CCMG notes the recent Constitutional Court decision in regards to government ministers vacating their posts following dissolution of parliament. This ruling demonstrates how disputes can be peacefully be resolved in our country. The issue was resolved without violence according to legal procedures. CCMG only notes the amount of time take for the Constitutional Court to rule. In general election related disputes must be resolved quickly.
CCMG recommends all parties respect the decision of the Constitutional Court and acts upon the resolution.
Notwithstanding these challenges, CCMG believes that these issues do not call into question the credibility of the overall process.
Election Day Observation
CCMG will deploy 1,674 trained and accredited monitors and conduct a Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) for the 2016 election. For the PVT, CCMG will have PVT Monitors at 1,404 polling streams located at 1,001 polling stations in every province, district, and constituency of the country as well as District Supervisors deployed as mobile monitors to all 103 districts of the country. CCMG has made every effort to promote the participation of women and youth in its monitoring efforts; 37% of our monitors are women and 69% are youths 18 to 35 years old.
All of CCMG’s PVT Monitors and District Supervisors have been carefully selected from member organizations, thoroughly trained by CCMG, and accredited by the ECZ. All have been given a copy of the ECZ’s Code of Conduct and all have read aloud and signed CCMG’s Non-Partisan Monitor Pledge to ensure honest and accurate reports.
CCMG’s PVT Monitors will arrive at their assigned polling stations and polling streams at 05h30 and remain throughout voting and counting until the official results for the entire polling station have been announced and posted. Throughout the day, they will send six monitoring reports from a detailed checklist via coded text message using their own mobile phones. This will provide CCMG with near real time information on the conduct of the election.
PVT is quite a sophisticated citizen observation methodology. It employs statistics and information and communication technologies (ICTs) to help ensure that the official presidential results as announced by the ECZ reflect the ballots cast by voters at polling stations. PVT is not new to Zambia. PVTs have been conducted in Zambia for presidential elections in 1991, 2008, 2011, and 2015.
Citizen observers have used PVTs to promote credible elections across Africa, including in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Nigeria. PVT provides the most accurate and timely information on the conduct of voting and counting because reports are collected from a scientific sample of polling stations and polling streams and reports are transmitted in near real 2 of 5time via coded SMSs using mobile phones. Because CCMG PVT Monitor reports come from a scientific sample of polling stations and polling streams, the findings are true for ALL polling stations and polling streams (even those without a CCMG PVT Monitor).
CCMG’s sampled PVT polling stations and polling streams are located in every province, every district and every constituency of the country. To ensure CCMG’s PVT sample is truly representative, the percentage of sampled polling stations and streams in each province, district, and constituency closely matches the percentage of all polling stations in each province, district, and constituency. For example, Copperbelt province has 13.6% of all polling stations and 14.8% of all polling streams in the country while 13.5% of PVT sampled polling stations and 14.4% of sampled polling streams are in Copperbelt province. Thus the composition of the PVT sampled polling stations and polling streams closely matches the distribution of all polling stations and polling streams in the country
We also wish to underline the fact that PVT is the only methodology that can independently verify the accuracy of the official presidential results as announced by the ECZ. CCMG will only be verifying the accuracy of the result of the presidential election. Verification is done by adding together the official results for the presidential election as announced at sampled polling stations and polling streams transmitted directly to CCMG’s PVT Data Centre by coded text message. PVT Monitors do not count ballot papers themselves, but only monitor the process.
The PVT is NOT an exit poll and PVT Monitors do not ask anyone for whom they voted.
While CCMG will independently verify the accuracy of the presidential results as announced by the ECZ, CCMG does not announce official results or declare the winner of an election. Only the ECZ is constitutionally mandated to announce official results for any election. PVTs serve as a deterrent to prevent results from being manipulated. PVTs also reduce the potential for post-election violence due to possible disagreements over the official results.
CCMG will hold a press conference at 10h00 on the 12 th of August at the Intercontinental Hotel to share our preliminary findings on the conduct of voting and counting. Immediately after the ECZ announces the official results for the presidential election, CCMG will release its verification statement on the accuracy of the official presidential results after the ECZ’s official pronouncement.
CCMG calls on all Zambians to go to the polling stations and vote on Election Day.
Zambians who are registered to vote should go to their assigned polling stations and remember to bring their National Registration Card (NRC) and Voter ID card. However, Zambians who are 18 years old or older and have an NRC, but are not registered to vote should also go to polling stations with their NRCs as they will be able to vote in the Constitutional Referendum (even though they will not be able to vote in the other election)
CCMG calls on all candidates, parties, their supporters, and voters, to be patient and to be peaceful on Election Day and in the post-election period. This year voters will cast five ballot papers rather than three and the maximum number of voters per polling stream has been increased from 850 to 950. This may result in the process taking more time and voters having 3 of 5to wait longer in the queues. It may also increase the time it takes to count the ballot papers and to consolidate the results. As such, we must exercise a lot of patience and avoid spreading unfounded rumours over election results.
CCMG encourages all candidates to accept the official results as announced by the ECZ.
If any candidate or party has any issues with the results they should peacefully pursue the legal avenues provided for seeking redress. CCMG’s PVT will provide accurate, independent verification of the official results for the presidential election . If CCMG’s PVT findings are consistent with the official results for the presidential election then candidates, their supporters and the general public should have confidence that they truly reflect the votes cast.
CCMG calls on the two run-off candidates to call for peace if the presidential election goes to a second round. The run-off system for the presidential election is new and not all Zambians understand that it may not be possible for no one to be declared the winner of the presidential election in the first round. It is therefore critical that the ECZ, but also political parties and civil society, take all steps to explain to the public that if no presidential candidate wins by 50% +1 of the votes cast, there will be a second round.
Finally, CCMG reminds voters that ours is not a new democracy. We gained our independence over 50 years ago and multiparty elections were reintroduced in 1991. We should all conduct ourselves with political maturity, reject political violence, and permit all voters to go to the polls and vote according to their conscience regardless of their political affiliation or preference.
All of us; the ECZ, the government, political parties and voters should be guided by the Christian principle of, “Do unto others as we would have others do unto us.” if all stakeholders follow this precept then the 2016 general elections will be credible and Zambia will serve as a model to the region and the whole of Africa.
God Bless Zambia