The Zambian government has warned that individuals or members of civil society organisations who will try to carry out parallel vote tabulation in this year’s tripartite elections will be arrested and prosecuted.
Chief government spokesperson Ronnie Shikapwasha told the Zambia Daily Mail that there is no law in the country that allows an individual or organisation to conduct parallel vote tabulation.
He said any individual or group of people that will go against the law during the elections will face arrest.
Lieutenant-General Shikapwasha said the Electoral Commission of Zambia is the only institution mandated by law to announce results during elections.
“The only institution that has the mandate and authority over all elections in Zambia is the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
“So, civil society organisations have no right to do so as there is no such law in our Constitution,” he said.
Gen Shikapwasha was speaking in an interview on March 8 in reaction to pronouncements by the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) and other civil society organisations that they will apply parallel vote tabulation during the elections.
It also caused unrest in 2001 when the United Party for National Development members and supporters took to the streets to celebrate the party’s then president Anderson Mazoka’s unofficially announced victory in that year’s presidential election.
The official results showed that Mr Mazoka’s rival Levy Mwanawasa was the winner.
But Gen Shikapwasha said Government will not tolerate non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that want to fuel violence in the country.
He also said the parallel vote tabulation has proved to be a recipe for violence in countries where it has been applied.
“Just in Zimbabwe, there was confusion during the elections because some NGOs applied parallel vote tabulation, and so at the end of the day, there was confusion after the electoral body announced the official results.
“And if you also remember during the 2001 general elections, violence almost broke out in this country because the European Union and other NGOs applied the parallel vote tabulation and had announced that late UPND president, Anderson Mazoka, had won the elections when in fact it was late President Mwanawasa. So, people should desist from activities that can cause civil war in this country,” he said.
Gen Shikapwasha said it is also surprising that United States Ambassador Mark Storella is in support of the system when it does not exist in his own country.
“This system does not apply in America or any other country that I’m aware of. So, it is disappointing the ambassador can be in support of such a system.
“Let all those that have intentions of sponsoring NGOs to apply the parallel vote tabulation instead direct those funds to the Electoral Commission of Zambia so that we can strengthen this institution,” Gen Shikapwasha said.
Mr Storella was quoted by the media at the weekend as saying there is nothing wrong with the parallel system.
But Gen Shikapwasha said NGOs that want to implement the system have intentions of rigging elections.
“These institutions just want to cause confusion in this country because they want to come up with their own results and dispute official results of the Electoral Commission of Zambia,” he said.
The ECZ last week rejected the parallel vote tabulation, stating that it would cause confusion in the management of elections in the country.