Feeling pity for the disorganised opposition who they have even labelled as Tehit, in reference to some unknown country that has so far conceded more than 23 goals in 3 matches played at the Confederation Cup in Brazil, some senior ruling PF and Office of the President (OP) officials concerned with the one party state being created, have release the following PF rigging manual to the Zambianwatchdog that is currently in place.
Credible and highly reliable information passed on to the Zambianwatchdog by the ruling PF party officials show how they are involved in massive rigging during every by-election, especially with the sleeping opposition parties whose members are never well organised to jealously guard the voting process at every stage.
This is information received from the people who have confessed to participating in the rigging process that the PF have been managing to so easily win elections at various stages as tabulated below.
The first stage, not too serious and everyone does it
This of course is not very serious and possibly every political party engages in it to varying degrees. It involves the usual giving of gifts such as money, foods, chitenge materials and for the ruling party, the usual promise of taking development to the area.
But as stated, everyone commits this offence. What differs is the size of these gifts but even the ruling party does not really trust this method that much especially with the now popular ‘donchi kubeba’ syndrome in our society.
Musician Wesley Chibambo aka Dandy Crazy who himself has been done a ‘donchi kubeba’ should really be commended for this sensitisation message and we appeal to ZNBC and other radio stations to keep playing that song in full as it appeals more to PF corruption now than was the case with MMD actually. Interestingly, PF still use this song but no longer play it in full for the people to get the message.
The second stage, not very serious but need for concern
This may not be very serious but there is need for concern by stakeholders. Time and again, people have complained of their voters cards being bought especially by the ruling party, and this has even been brought to the attention of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) who have been running adverts against this practice. But so far, nobody has given a concrete answer as to what happens when these cards are grabbed. But our informers who have participated in these schemes indicate that while a few voters, especially known staunch opposition supporters are indeed de-franchised on the election day, most people are actually followed to their homes or arranged to be met at specific locations normally near voting centres and given back their voters cards on election day and escorted to polling stations with money. These people are then again given money and told to vote for the ruling party candidates and while they can still change their mind in the voting booth and do a ‘donchi kubeba’, chances are that the bribes are still too fresh and strong to ignore, especially for the rural poor masses.
Third stage with level of danger increases here
Having clearly established how many people they would have de-franchised through buying voters cards as tabulated in the second stage, the ruling PF at this stage can now start playing around with numbers, especially that it is also a well known fact that massive apathy during by-elections is always anticipated. This is a stage where well-trained people with pre-marked ballot papers enter polling stations, names called and normally in quick succession. These people normally wear extra tops such as jackets, bombers, jerseys, and would always want to get in their pockets pretending to want to get and use their pens for marking when in actual fact they would be exchanging the ballot paper given to them with say 10 to 20 already marked ballot papers. Take note that ballot papers are very thin papers and these people normally fold them careful and usually walk out of the polling booth holding ballot papers with two hands and carefully slot the whole bunch inside the ballot box. This is normally possible as the level of concentration for election monitors and agents normally shifts to the next person whose name is being called and scrutinised. Remember these are well-trained people who can walk very confidently and very intimidating even to the election monitors and party agents. Sources say a political party with well-trained and alert election agents should not shy away from calmly and diplomatically request to search such people. It is within the law and if nothing is found on their bodies, well and good but don’t give up in requesting to search. Information received indicate that these well-trained people normally do this staffing of ballot papers in the afternoon to make sure there are other ballot papers in the ballot box so that even if they scatter inside by mistake, they wont raise suspicion. And for a by-election, even at least 20 people with each one carrying about 10 to 20 pre-marked ballot papers at a go in say 20 polling stations, you can multiply.
Remember, it is no longer a secret that blank ballot papers for a particular constituency are no longer a secret to obtain as was the case in Kapiri-Mposhi where some blank ballot booklets even went missing before voting day. Besides, up to now, nobody has clear information on where and how these ballot papers are being printed in the UK as this is done without any monitors as was the case under the previous MMD when all participating parties and independent bodies would be present when printing and packing. For now, stupid political parties are only called to check cartons that have already arrived at the airport.
Fourth stage with equally dangerous out-come
This is done during vote counting stage when by this time, the level of concentration by election monitors and agents is extremely low due to tiredness. You may remember that in most by-elections held so far, perceived ECZ electoral officers belonging to certain ethic groups suspected to be sympathetic to certain political parties have either been transferred or completely excluded from this exercise and wonder why. Information received and collaborated by those who have participated in these schemes indicate that counting and separation of votes for particular candidates can sometimes be done in quick succession without paying particular attention to the actual markings on ballot papers. This also happens with increased level of intimidation by ruling party cadres who at this stage will be celebrating every ballot that is merely flashed in people’s faces without scrutiny. What makes matters worse is that when opposition monitors notice that their heap of ballot papers looks small, they easily walk away even before the process is completed which normally gives other people a field day to just add everything as theirs. In most polling stations this would normally be in the early hours of the morning when these people are now extremely exhausted and all they want to hear are numbers and not cross-check the ballot papers. And even worse, opposition members leave out vital information such as signed declared results from counting centres and the PF normally capitalise by transposing their figures with those of the opposition.
Remember, once the electoral officer has announced the figures, any demands for a recount and verification should be through an election petition in the courts of law that normally takes years to conclude.
Information obtained by the Watchdog indicate that both ruling and opposition parties have actually been culprits of the fourth stage in their strongholds. Sources said this was actually massively utilised by the PF even in the 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections in their strongholds as then MMD, UPND and other candidates and their monitors walked away once they had lost the parliamentary seat and never bothered to guard the presidential votes.
Fifth stage with very dangerous outcomes
It has so far been established that the Electoral Commission of Zambia has been using double standards when it comes to voters registers. In some constituencies like Livingstone, Kapiri Mposhi and Mpongwe by-elections, they used the updated registers which the Watchdog has been arguing that this is a serious sources of confusion as people are being shifted from one constituency to another while in some places the 2011 registers have been used. The ECZ argument has been that they always stop updating registers in areas where by-elections have been announced, but the truth is that the ruling party will always have an upper hand in knowing which areas will have by-elections either through MPs resigning once they have enough numbers or through election nullifications. Currently, we all know there will be by-elections in Mulobezi (Western province) Mkaika and Malambo (Eastern province) but the dates have not been announced. The ruling party using the system already knew the outcomes of these and could have been beefing-up numbers way before everybody knew since by-elections are their only pre-occupation.
We challenge ECZ even on their own or with the involvement of stakeholders to carry out a simple verification that is not really meant to upset any election results and see if the votes cast at particular polling stations, as per ballot paper foils that remain with them, actually tally with the total votes cast in those areas. This is for their own good as well as they try to perfect the electoral process in Zambia which has the potential to cause untold violence and anarchy if not checked.
We also challenge opposition parties to check and verify if their members have indeed been vigilant enough to check all these processes till the conclusion of the votes up to counting.
We these tips, it is surely not up to the Watchdog now to educate the opposition parties on what needs to be done to curb these malpractices, especially that political parties like MMD were in power for 20 years and used some of these tactics.
This of course is in addition to the fact that PF go in the campaign field with registers and target registered voters instead of merely relying on the so called mammoth rallies and condemning their poorly attended rallies.