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Rogan undermined elections in Zambia, says Hichilema

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says UN Zambia resident coordinator Janet Rogan undermined the 2016 general elections process in many ways leading to an outcome that was deeply flawed and heightened tension in the country.

Hichilema has written to United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres registering his party’s displeasure with Rogan’s conduct.

According to the attached catalogue of concerns, UPND stated that Rogan had failed the people of Zambia.

“The 2016 elections in Zambia were, to a large extent, financed through an elections basket fund managed by UNDP with financial contributions coming from cooperating partners such as USAID, EU, UKAID, and Irish Aid. All this goodwill was on the understanding that the UNDP is a credible organisation that would support the Zambia electoral process in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner. However, as demonstrated below, the actions of Ms. Rogan undermined this process in many ways leading to an outcome that was deeply flawed and heightened the tension in the country,”

Hichilema said.

“The following are some of the actions of Ms. Rogan, which we feel undermine the greater national agenda of peace and stability in Zambia. Leading to the 2016 elections, the UN, under the leadership of Ms. Rogan commissioned a Voter Registration Audit (VRA). This VRA was far from being transparent and credible. Among the key findings of this VRA, which contributed to a flawed electoral process are: i. Existence of foreign nationals on the voters roll. ii. The VRA indicates that there were 132,837 individuals with shared or similar National Registration details. iii. There were 2,555 voter registration records with shared National Registration Card numbers, names and Dates of Birth. iv. There [were] 492 records with shared full registration details and variations on physical address and portraits.”

UPND stated that the consultants who undertook the VRA were not recruited through a transparent bidding process.

“This raises questions on the credibility of the whole process. Ms. Janet Rogan allowed procurement of these consultants and was fully aware of this. It is also interesting to note that to our knowledge, Ms. Rogan has, to date, never released these findings to the stakeholders. In fact, key stakeholders such as political parties and Civil Society Organisations were never engaged nor informed of the existence of these anomalies on the voters’ roll and what was being done to correct the situation. Clearly, Ms. Rogan is an accomplice in the flawed VRA whose findings she has not released to date,”

UPND stated.

“It is also interesting that the gap between the supposed winner of the elections and the second candidate closely mirrors the number of multiple registrations on the voters roll as revealed by the VRA, which Ms. Rogan has never released. This is against the spirit of transparency, accountability, and fairness, which the UN stands for. It is also apparent that Ms. Rogan supported the controversial printing of ballot papers for the 2016 elections in Dubai, a move that was expensive, suspicious and widely condemned by stakeholders. We believe such decisions should only have been made after a consultative process with her.”

Hichilema stated that his party demanded that Rogan releases the full and detailed VRA report.

He stated that even though the collation of votes was highly flawed with inconsistencies of figures such as total votes announced in some cases, Rogan was the first one to publicly endorse the outcome and openly “told off those who had lost to immediately accept the results and move on”.

“Soon after the elections, UNDP commissioned and financed a Post Election Review Process (Structural Vulnerability Assessment (SVA). The purpose of this review was meant to assess the capacity and effectiveness of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) in terms of how they managed the just ended elections. This review covered all aspects of ECZ operations from civic education, voter registration, polling and collation of results, and electoral conflict management. The key outcomes of this study revealed that the 2016 elections had serious lapses and gross institutional inadequacies in the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and others relevant with regard to overall electoral operations,”

Hichilema said.

“Again, Ms. Rogan has not engaged the key stakeholders on these outcomes. Against the principles of transparency and inclusiveness, she has not been accountable to the citizens of Zambia as she has not released these outcomes. We again demand that she releases the full Post Election Review Report – (SVA). All these failings in the electoral process, under Ms. Rogan’s watch, have greatly contributed to a volatile political environment and an escalation of conflict in the country. The levels of unprecedented violence in the country are revealed in graphic detail in a report commissioned and financed by UNDP called the Structural Vulnerability Assessment (SVA). Once again in what appears to be her strange way of doing things and despite an alarming trend in conflict levels in the country, Ms. Rogan never shared the outcomes and contents of this process. It was only after we demanded for this report that the media unearthed it and published it against Ms. Rogan’s will. This report was kept concealed as it clearly exposes weaknesses in the institutions of governance in the country.”

UPND stated that in the face of state sponsored brutality and volatility in the country, Rogan remained aloof and indifferent to the suffering of many citizens of Zambia she was supposed to serve.

Hichilema named some of the State sponsored brutality as the death of UPND member Chibulo Mapenzi, who was shot dead by the police, the 2016 youth day when UPND members were attacked by PF cadres in collaboration with the State, and the death of Grasier Matapa, a UPND supporter who in February 2015, was murdered by PF cadres despite having reported three times to the police that he had received death threats and the police did nothing to protect his life.

“Arbitrary arrests of opposition leaders and subjecting them to dehumanising conditions. A good case in point is the brutal arrest on April 11, 2017 of leading opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema on trumped up charges and subsequent torture and inhuman treatment. He was unlawfully and brutally arrested in military style without a search warrant. He was only released after the intervention of the Commonwealth and the Zambian Catholic Church, yet the UN in Zambia, under the leadership of Ms. Rogan, was conveniently and completely absent when they could have taken the lead. This is not an isolated incident. Recently, two other opposition leaders have equally been arrested and treated in a very dehumanising manner. As empirically evidenced by the SVA report, conflict is escalating and the reign of terror is the order of the day. All this is happening under Ms. Rogan’s watch as she continues with a posture of aloofness and indifference in the face of gross human rights violations and abuse to the Zambian citizens,” the UPND stated.

“Harassment and brutal assault of journalists by the ruling party and their cadres became the order of the day. There were incidences of closures of media houses in the country, which clearly violates the UN principles of media freedom. A number of citizens were unfairly and are still being arrested and slapped with non-bailable offences where they are kept in filthy detention centres until finally proven innocent. Under the PF regime, citizens, especially those from the opposition UPND and other parties, are considered guilty until proven innocent in many cases only after long detention periods in filthy police and prison cells. As we write this letter, it is a common fact that a number of innocent citizens are now political detainees and prisoners for crimes they did not commit.”

The UPND stated that it was not uncommon for Rogan to side with the ruling PF in political and other debates in in Zambia, a development which many believe had impaired her objectivity.

“We find Ms. Rogan’s conduct unhelpful to the greater agenda of deepening democratic governance and national cohesion in Zambia. We feel her conduct does not only threaten the peace and stability of the country, but also incompatible with the tenets of the UN core values and principles of transparency, inclusiveness, accountability and upholding the integrity of her office and the organisation she works for. We regret that we feel her actions have undermined the achievements of the UNDP Election support to Zambia. This undermines the value attached to the UNDP basket fund by co-operating partners whose sole aspiration is to prudently use their taxpayers’ money in deepening democracy in our country,”

the UPND stated.

“As a country, particularly leaders and other stakeholders, we are about to embark on a dialogue process which will be facilitated by the Commonwealth and as a matter of principle, the UN, being the custodian of global peace will be expected to attend this process. Under Ms Rogan, the UN in Zambia has lost its role as a credible broker. We as the largest opposition political party and many other citizens have lost confidence in Ms Rogan. The country remains deeply divided because some of the actions being carried out by the current government have all the hallmarks of disadvantaging certain citizens because they belong to specific ethnic groups. Many wars we are witnessing today around the world, started with seemingly innocuous actions such as these, yet the UN under the leadership of Ms Rogan is witnessing a country sliding into the abyss without offering any interventions. Her deliberate acts of omission have contributed to the volatile situation we find ourselves in today.”

Hichilema stated that his party believed in following civilised due processes.

“…we not only follow the letter of the law but also the spirit of the law. We have demonstrated this at different levels, such as an appeal to the Constitutional Court over the disputed 2016 election and an impeachment motion in Parliament over several constitutional breaches,” stated the UPND.

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