THE opposition must strictly monitor and scrutinise the tallying of votes in this year’s general elections because the totaling process has in the past been subjected to manipulation and abuse, veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga has advised.
In an interview, Mwaanga also advised the opposition to invest in efficient Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) mechanisms that would expose any schemes to rig the elections.
“Opposition parties already face other formidable challenges of not being allowed to hold meetings on account of the manner in which the amended public order Act is being applied by the police. So there is great need for an effective international election observation mechanism, which must include Parallel Vote Tabulation, all of which make it easier for those who lose elections to peacefully accept the outcome,” Mwaanga said.
He said the process of tallying election results had been subjected to manipulation in the past and warned the political players to be vigilant.
“These are burning issues which require to be seriously addressed in the interest of holding free, fair, transparent, credible democratic elections. The abuse of state resources and institutions, lack of openness in the electoral process, particularly at the tallying stage where it has been subjected to manipulation and abuse, election violence and the conduct of public media during elections, “ Mwaanga said.
He said the constitution amendment bill that President Lungu assented to on Tuesday had troubling provisions which had potential for misunderstanding and confusion going forward.
“It was amazing to see the meagre public resources being spent on an extravagant assent-signing ceremony at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka. This is happening at a time when the nation is reeling under the weight of a poor performing economy with galloping inflation having reached over 21 per cent during the month of December, 2015… when prices of practically everything are going up and beyond what the ordinary citizens who constitute the overwhelming majority can afford,” Mwaanga stated.
“The labour hours lost by civil servants being shepherded at Heroes Stadium and other employees from other sectors are a cost neutral to the economy already under siege.”
He said despite the ill-advised extravagance and waste of public resources, the constitution amendment bill that President Lungu signed still did not take care of the flaws in the Constitution.
“The amended constitution sadly still gives power to whoever is President to prologue Parliament in consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly by proclamation. This is against the spirit of fixing a date in the Constitution, because this can be circumvented by any sitting President in the event that he or she decides to catch the opposition parties by surprise. This is a stand-alone provision which has nothing to do with special circumstances such as inability of the executive to govern or failure of the National Assembly to carry out legislative functions, among others,” said Mwaanga.