The Lukashya parliamentary by-election vote rigging allegations being raised by Nevers Mumba need to be urgently and seriously addressed by the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
What hope is there for free and fair elections next year if the Electoral Commission of Zambia cannot satisfactorily conduct two parliamentary elections?
Elections are pivotal to the quality of a country’s governance and can either greatly advance or set back a country’s long-term democratic development.
The most fundamental principle defining credible elections is that they must reflect the free expression of the will of the people.
To achieve this, elections should be transparent, inclusive, and accountable, and there must be equitable opportunities to compete in the elections. These broad principles are buttressed by several electoral process-related obligations, as well as a number of key rights and freedoms.
And we should not forget that the authority of the government can only be derived from the will of the people as expressed in genuine, free and fair elections.
Electoral malpractice not only distorts the quality of representation but has implications for political, social and economic outcomes.
Free and fair elections allow people to determine the political make-up and future policy direction of their nation’s government. Free and fair elections increase the likelihood of a peaceful transfer of power. They help to ensure that losing candidates will accept the validity of the elections result and cede power to the new government.
We believe next year’s elections will be much more problematic, and will have wide impact for the country.
The prospect for fraud and violence are substantial. Edgar Lungu and his minions seem to be determined to win at any cost. This, in itself, is certainly not the right recipe for free, fair and peaceful elections.
And the Electoral Commission of Zambia is helplessly weak and not in control. Only a small part of our elections is really under the direct control of the Electoral Commission of Zambia. Most of the processes are ran by officers from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Health. And the Electoral Commission of Zambia has very little or no control over these officers’ conduct.
What we saw in Lukashya and Mwansabombwe doesn’t give confidence that next year’s elections will be free, fair and peaceful.