THE merchants of election rigging-mongering, the United Party for National Development (UPND), are at it again.
This time round, they are levelling allegations against the Ministry of Local Government of recruiting civil servants to rig the August polls. In their ceremonial style, they hold an impeccable belief that some foreign nationals have been engaged to rig the upcoming elections and the Ministry of Local Government is at the centre of the matrix.
Just a few months ago, the UPND is on record to have launched premature scathing attacks on the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) way before the selection process for the company to print the August elections ballot papers was complete.
Not only were those allegations baseless but also unwarranted as it emerged later that the Dubai-based printing company, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company, did not print the presidential ballot papers in the February Ugandan general elections. Instead, it only printed ballots for the district council elections.
We reiterate what we had stated then that such allegations can only be interpreted as a deliberate ploy to find reason for disputing the outcome of the August 11 elections as they have perennially said so.
Is the Ministry of Local Government, through the councils, partnering with the ECZ in the administration of elections for the first time? Is UPND implying that when the opposition MMD and PF then in 1991 and 2011 respectively, worked with the Ministry of Local Government for them to have won those elections?
The Ministry of Local Government has, as far as we can remember, always worked with the electoral body each time we have national elections for the simple reason that it is convenient and reasonably ideal to administer elections because the councils are dotted around this country whereas ECZ is only headquartered in Lusaka.
It is equally a well-known fact that ECZ permanent staff cannot provide the necessary manpower to superintend over the election process in all the wards and constituencies across this nation. As such, civil servants from various Government ministries are engaged as poll staff.
It is grossly misleading to assert that only civil servants from the Ministry of Local Government are recruited for the exercise. Unless the teachers, nurses and others who are recruited by ECZ automatically become civil servants under the Ministry of Local Government, then such claims might have some basis.
Even if this were to be true, not all civil servants support the ruling Patriotic Front (PF). Therefore, we think that such innuendos are blatantly unnecessary but only meant to discredit the outcome of the election.
What is baffling is that the UPND can easily and unashamedly make such unsubstantiated claims despite having been proven wrong on many occasions in the recent past.
We are of the view that these allegations lack substance and must be dismissed. We challenge the UPND to provide details of how the Ministry of Local Government and the alleged foreign nationals plan to rig the elections because such information would be vital so that appropriate measures can be put in place to avoid conflict in the aftermath of the election process.