Dipak Patel has, in a letter to the chairman and commissioners of the Electoral Commission of Zambia, warned that if not properly handled the 2021 elections can cause serious unimaginable conflicts which could potentially rob the country of the peace it has enjoyed since independence.
“It will therefore be prudent that those tasked to manage the elections do so in a fair and transparent manner. The the entire legal framework that governs the process must be reviewed and discussed and agreed with all stakeholders well before the August 2021 elections so that ECZ builds stakeholder confidence,” says Dipak who has been involved as campaign manager during the 1991and 2006 (MMD) together with Vernon Mwaanga as campaign chairman and as campaign manager in the 2015 and 2016 (UPND) presidential and general elections. “From my experience, of all the four elections the least hassle-free election process were the elections of 1991. In 1991, once the High Court ordered the ZNBC to air the MMD adverts, no further major problems were faced with ZNBC. Neither did the MMD face any problems on holding elections rallies, sometimes on the same day in the same town with the incumbent President and were able to freely campaign countrywide and did not face the problems of police permits for rallies, as do political parties now. Instead of progressing our democratic culture and having free and fair elections, things have gone from bad to worse, with the biased behaviour of the Zambia Police, Zambia Air Force and inconsistencies and inability by the ECZ to enforce what is right and fair in the process of elections. The elections of 2015 and 2016 were fraught with problems that never got resolved by the ECZ.”
It is beyond dispute that UNIP had organised far better elections in 1991 than those that followed.
Why? Our simple and only explanation is because we had more honest people in government, Electoral Commission and the courts.
Dr Kenneth Kaunda could never engage in dishonest electoral practices. We also had judges who were appointed on merit and not on political patronage. Those who were tasked to manage the election were men and women of integrity. This is not the situation today.
But if the poor management of elections continues one of these days we are likely to see people from the Electoral Commission of Zambia going to jail.