The PF government has removed almost all Tonga presiding officers from tomorrow’s parliamentary by-election.
Presiding officers are in charge of polling stations where the voting and counting of votes is done from before being sent to the totalling centre where the returing officer will announce the winner
Presiding officers are officers of the Electoral Commission of Zambia and are trained by ECZ in advance.
But Livingstone Town Clerk Vivian Chikoti has told the more than 10 presiding officers that they will not be presiding because she has information that they are biased.
‘The shocking thing is that all the presiding officers who have been removed are Tonga except for three who are Lozi,’ an ECZ source told the watchdog this morning.
The source wondered who will replace the presiding officers and why the replacements are done secretly by the Town Clerk and not ECZ.
The Watchdog has been informed by other sources that the presiding officers have been replaced by a team of Bemba OP officers from Lusaka.
On January 18, the United Party for National Development (UPND) accused the Patriotic Front of planning to use the Livingstone Town Clerk to manipulate the outcome of 28th (now March 12) February by-election.
Local Government Minister Emerine Kabanshi that time nullified the suspension of Town Clerk Vivian Chikoti by Livingstone city council councillors on allegations of incompetence, and instead suspended the councillors for their decision.
Kabanshi appointed a PF cadre Alex Bwalya as administrator of the council.
But UPND Kalomo Member of Parliament Request Muntanga has told QFM News that the PF wants to use the Town Clerk who is the Returning officer in the elections to manipulate the vote.
Mr. Muntanga says the move to suspend the council is aimed at creating loopholes to rig the by-election.
He says even if the decision by the council to suspend the three officials could have been illegal, the Minister should have found a more appropriate way of handling the matter.
Mr Muntanga states that the local government Minister should have simply reinstated the three suspended council officials and put the matter of the councilors on the table for discussion.
He says the quick decision by the minister to suspend the council only shows that there is a hidden agenda behind the suspension of the UPND dominated council.