|1 January 2002
ZAMBIA: EU and US observers acknowledge polls irregularities
Concerns raised by civil society and observers in the just ended
elections should be addressed before any inauguration of a president, European
Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) in Zambia has advised. Releasing the
second interim report on the 2001 presidential and general elections at a press
briefing in Lusaka on Dec 31, EUEOM chief Observer Michael Meadowcroft said the
electoral process, particularly in many areas on polling day, was badly planned
and poorly managed at the national level.
"We have set out evidence of many serious shortcomings of this election
before, during and after polling day," Meadowcroft said. "We continue actively
to observe the national tabulation process in detail." Meadowcroft said the
delays and the slowness of the voting process which lasted for about three days
in some areas was avoidable and inexcusable.
Meadowcroft said announcement of December 27, 2001 by President Chiluba
as an election day and failure by government to declare it a holiday created
considerable inconvenience for voters. He said during the weeks preceding the
election date, district administrators had continued to be prominent in the
campaigning activities of the ruling party despite the court ruling that they
were not permitted to engage in political activities because they were civil
servants. Meadowcroft said the State owned media had also flouted electoral
regulations by reporting in favour of MMD, before, during and after the
"It is never easy to determine the effect of such a consistently
unlevelled playing field, but its very existence, and the belief in its
efficacy on the part of those promoting it, undermines the concept of a free
and fair election," said Meadowcroft.
Similar concerns were expressed by a speaker of the Carter Centre's
election observer team in Lusaka, David Carroll. "We have enough reports of
irregularities for there to be cause for concern, but it is still too early to
make a definitive statement on the fairness of the election, he said.
All opposition parties have accused the authorities of vote-rigging,
amid protest over the slow vote count after presidential, parliamentary and
local elections last thursday. In a joint letter six candidates alleged that
ballot boxes had been stuffed, and that new ballots had arrived after counting
had been completed in a bid by the MMD to retain power.
Anderson Mazoka, the opposition United Party for National Development's
presidential candidate, declared himself president over the weekend. With the
results of 93 of the 150 constituencies announced, Mazoka on December 30 led by
9,000 votes, but a million ballots were still uncounted, the regional feature
service SARDC reported.
"Given concerns about transparency in the tabulation process, the
Carter Centre summarized, we believe all sides should strive to provide
for maximum transparency in the post-election period; particularly in the time
remaining before the declaration of the final presidential results by the Chief
Justice. Every opportunity should be pursued to check vote tabulations from
alternate sources. To this end, the ECZ needs to ensure timely access to
official results at all levels so these can be cross-checked against the poll
results and tabulation results collected by party agents and observers."
Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda has meanwhile made an emotional
appeal to all Zambian citizens to remain calm and peaceful and not to let the
chaotic political situation deteriorate into violence. (The Post, IRIN)