ECZ under opposition fire

SOME opposition political parties are against the decision by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to use a pilot electronic system to transmit the Kasenengwa and Vubwi election results in Eastern Province.

But ECZ public relations manager Cris Akufuna questioned why some opposition political leaders were against the idea when all the stakeholders were consulted.

MMD president Nevers Mumba wondered why the ECZ waited until the last minute to introduce the electronic system of transmitting election results.

He also wondered why out of five by-election the ECZ  wanted to pilot the project in two by-elections in Eastern Province.

“What they should have done was to call all stakeholders to a meeting in good time to educate them about the proposed system so that all were on board so that they can collectively approve the system.

“To sneak the system in at the last minute without proper consultation is a recipe for suspicion and it has the potential of destroying the credibility of the entire Vubwi and Kasenengwa by-elections,” said Dr. Mumba.

And UPND vice-president Canisius Banda charged that anything electronic was open to manipulation by anyone.

Dr Banda said it was surprising that in a technologically backward country like Zambia, ECZ were quick to embrace methods of handling vital national data through electronic methods that were hardly understood and whose security was not assured.

But Mr Akufuna wondered why some opposition political leaders were against the idea when all the stakeholders were consulted.

Mr Akufuna said all the political parties were informed and that the system was meant to improve the electoral system in Zambia.

“I am shocked by the remarks from some political leaders because all the stakeholders were consulted when the decision was made and none of them rejected it,” Mr Akufuna said.

He said the system was a pilot scheme aimed at trying to improve the electoral system.

Mr Akufuna explained that the commission decided to pick only two constituencies Vubwi and Kasenengwa as the starting point for the system before it was introduced to all parts of the country in case of any elections in future.

But Dr Mumba said although the MMD was not against using technology, the timing of the decision by ECZ was highly questionable.

Dr Mumba said this was especially so because the system had only being introduced in two by-election  in Eastern Province out of the five countrywide.

He said the MMD would rather conduct Parallel Voter Tabulation (PVT) to prevent any manipulation of election results by the PF government.

“We demand that ECZ immediately withdraws this electronic system and only introduce it in future by-elections, and only after exhaustive discussions,” Dr Mumba  said.

He said such electronic methods of handling national data required thorough consultations with all stakeholders and a deep understanding of what was involved.

“Each stakeholder needs to have capacity to ensure security of the transferred material. There is still room for its use in the future when all key fundamentals are in place, and therefore we reject the ECZ’s plan to use electronics in Vubwi and Kasenengwa,” Dr Banda said.