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I believe we’ll have a free, fair and credible election – Nshindano

THE Electoral Commission of Zambia says its agenda is simply one, to deliver credible elections.

Commission chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano featured on ZNBC TV’s Sunday Interview programme, hosted by Grevazio Zulu.

He said: “elections are very critical to the stability of this country, especially now.”

Nshindano said politics could be played “before and so on” but that going forward, “we want to ensure that the country is peaceful.”

“We want to ensure that our country develops. And that’s no exception; when I’m sitting at the Electoral Commission of Zambia as chief electoral officer, I’m also a Zambian [and] not just chief electoral officer,” Nshindano said. “I want the best for my country. I want the best for my family, I want the best for my children. At the centre of that, stability is very important and political leaders play a critical role.”

He reminded stakeholders, with genuine concerns, in Zambia’s electoral process, to present such concerns to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).

“Bring them (electoral concerns) to the Commission and we’ll be able to address them,” he said. “There is no aspect whatsoever from the Commission, in terms of hidden agendas or any other aspect. The agenda of the Commission is simply one – to deliver credible elections. That’s it! And we’ll engage all stakeholders and we encourage them to do so.”

Nshindano, however, regrets that the ECZ has seen a lot of aspects with regards to misinformation around the electoral process, “and unfortunately even from our leaders at the highest level.”

Asked if the Commission had laid a good foundation for a free and fair election later this year, Nshindano said: “I’m very confident that we have done, to the level best of our abilities as the Commission.”

“We are still doing that! We are still engaging. Hopefully by the time we get to 12th August, everything that needs to be done will be in place. And we are very confident that that will be the case,” he assured. “Our plea is that let stakeholders engage with the Commission wherever they have concerns. Let them bring those concerns and they will be resolved.”

He said it did not help for stakeholders in the electoral process to just continue discrediting the Commission, without taking their concerns for resolution.

“As the Commission, we are flexible, open and where there is a genuine concern we will be able to act on it. Yes, I believe that we’ll have a free, fair and credible election, come 12th August 2021,” Nshindano said.

And Nshindano explained that in terms of registered voters in the current voters’ register, the ECZ stood at 83 per cent.

He said a look at the same in most developed countries would show that they do not get to that level.

“So, we have something to be proud about as a country. For us to be proud about that, we also need to translate that into actual vote. So, come 12th August, we hope the citizens will turn up in numbers the same way they did turn up for voter registration,” Nshindano said. “[We hope that] there will be no apathy and we hope that the outcome of the polls will be a true representative of the will of the Zambians. That is what the Commission is about. We are not there to facilitate for one particular individual or party and so on.”

He said the ECZ’s role was to uphold Zambia’s democratic tenets.

“At the end of the day, the one who wins, wins and we declare. That’s the mandate of the Commission – to conduct elections and nothing else. And we’ll do that in a fair, transparent and credible manner,” Nshindano said.

He further spoke about a trend that has been there in the past where people are keen to register as voters but, “for one reason or the other, they don’t see voter verification as an important exercise.”

“I hope it’s an issue of trust that we have done a good job. And we try by all means to do a good job, at first instance. But there are exceptions where one would basically not have done it correctly. There is human aspect to it when entering those details,” explained Nshindano.

“You might tell me you are Monga with one O, meanwhile you are Moonga with two Os. So, you have all those aspects that come into play and one has to correct those details. We hope that we’ll not have a lot of those issues, because they really undermine the credibility of the process.”