The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has said that the failure by the Electoral Commission of Zambia to release the result for the referendum alongside the presidential result, as was promised by the Commission, has raised serious speculation among members of the public that the Referendum could have failed.
Isaac Mwanza the YALI Governance Advisor said they are saddened that the Commission has left the matter of the referendum outcome to public speculation when that referendum vote was as more important as other elections.
“YALI has however said the total votes cast for presidential vote announced this far by the Commission is a pointer that Zambia will meet the required 50% threshold of eligible voters turning up to cast their vote which will allow Parliament to consider the Bill to alter the Bill of Rights and Article 79.
“We are saddened though that the Commission has left the matter of the referendum outcome to public speculation when that referendum vote was as more important as other elections,” he said.
He explained “YALI fears if the referendum result is only released after all other results have been done, the Commission may be accused of doctoring the numbers in favour of either candidate who would have won the elections because of each candidate had their own stance on the referendum.
“The Commission seem to have been overwhelmed with conducting the general election at the expense of the referendum and this is the reason why YALI had objected to turning the Electoral Commission into a Referendum Commission as ECZ has less capacity to handle the referendum.”
He also said the proposal by his organization on having a separate Referendum Commission which would be in charge of the Referendum process.
“The YALI proposal to conduct the referendum alongside the 2016 general elections was premised on the fact that we shall have a separate Referendum Commission which would solely have the capacity to announce the referendum result as ECZ also went around with their business of announcing winning candidate and we feel government must re – table the Referendum Bill to make clear distinction between the Electoral Commission and the Referendum Commission and the roles that each plays in the referendum,” he said.