By Marvin Chanda Mberi
The season of finding all possible excuses to validate the claim of alleged rigging is now in our midst. It is the anthem that we are used to and it has become synonymous every electoral year.
United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema has written an expansive yet substantively void of merit letter to the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to pen his lamentations against the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
We too would like to pen our observations after intently perusing through the correspondence addressed to the two continental bodies. Firstly, Mr Hichilema faults the new voter’s register and links it to his alleged manipulation of the process.
Here Mr Hichilema willfully neglected to bring to the attention to the two regional bodies that the new voter’s register was as a result of audit anomaly regarding the ghost voters as per the voter’s register of 2016.
Clearly the 2016 voter’s register was virtually a “dead document” which was filed with bloated list of registered voters.
Mr Hichilema did not appreciate that the voter’s role with ghost voters was vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation thus undermined prospects of the free and fair elections.
Contrary to what was alleged by Mr Hichilema, the voter registration process was conducted in a very fair and transparent manner and all stakeholders were given an equal opportunity to offer their participation and lend their expertise to this important part of the democratic process.
We recall how the UPND and its allies deadly and stanchly criticized every move that ECZ made without proposing any viable alternative. We wonder why HH can write to African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) alleging inadequacies yet his letter makes no mention to specific breaches of instruments such as the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG), the Zambian Constitution, the electoral legislation among others.
This clearly gives us an irresistible conclusion that Mr Hichilema is only entrapping the international actors to notice him and make headlines for wrong reasons.
As regards Mr Hichilema’s lamentations that the new voter’s register has reduced numbers in the UPND strongholds while recording marginal increase in PF strongholds, HH has clearly missed the causal link between the two.
Mr Hichilema has ignored to tell the AU and SADC that the reduction in UPND strongholds was a result of contributory negligence by the UPND to mobilize their supporters to the nearest voter registration centers.
We do recall that while PF was mobilizing its supporters to registration centers using all possible means, the UPND did not take interest but opted to waste their time by gallivanting from one social media page to the other discrediting the process and incite public discontent against ECZ.
And all things being equal, the long adage which goes, “you reap what you sow” always comes to fruition.
The PF which invested it’s time to mobilize numbers in the strongholds has yielded marginal increase while the other camp has yielded a reduction.
It is also laughable that HH can approach AU and EU not to legitimatize the outcome of the August poll when the mandate of declaring a victor solely lies within the ambit of ECZ.
We urge Mr Hichilema to have confidence in the internal institutions as they are competent to address his grievances than maliciously undermining the integrity of Zambia’s democracy before regional bodies.