Bwana Mkubwa PF Member of Parliament DR Jonas Chanda says rigging elections is not as easy as the UPND is claiming, and he had since urged the opposition party to embrace the cost saving decision that government has made to print ballot papers locally.
And Chanda says the decision is in line with Zambia’s sovereignty and also based on national security.
Speaking when he featured on a Radio Christian Voice Chat Back programme yesterday, Chanda said it was embarrassing that 54 years after independence, Zambia still did not have the capacity to print its own ballot papers.
He said the fears of rigging by the ruling party were baseless because it was possible for the PF to lose power even if ballot papers were printed locally.
“Let’s give credit where it is due. President Kaunda and UNIP got power in 1964. By 1991 when Zambia went back to multi-party democracy, ballot papers were printed here in Lusaka. UNIP which was in power then printed ballot papers and lost that election. They lost by 80 per cent. So, where was the rigging? Why didn’t UNIP rig? We had president Rupiah Banda in 2011, when PF came to power. President Banda and his government were in charge of the electoral system. He conceded power and handed over to president Sata. Where were the issues of rigging?” he asked.
“There were no issues of rigging you see that? Now rigging has become a new trend under our colleagues the opposition UPND. If you look at UPND from the time they started losing, they have lost so many times I lost count of how many times they have lost. But every time they complain of rigging. Ok nangu waba fye weka pa calo, ninshi rigging yali ku konkafye weka ai (does rigging follow the UPND only?) You see the problem is that even if they talk about rigging. They fail to present the evidence. Let us not accept these simplistic stories of rigging. Rigging is not easy, it is complex. That is why we have had ruling parties losing to opposition parties. And if those guys want to be in power let them focus on selling themselves to the Zambian people.”
Chanda said printing ballot papers in Zambia was about sovereignty.
“It is so sad that 54 years after independence we can argue over that kind of issue. Just two weeks ago Sierra Leon in Africa which came out of a brutal ten year civil war had elections, and guess where the ballot paper were printed? Liberia a month before came from a brutal war with very weak institutions and a smaller economy than Zambia, guess where their ballot papers are printed? In Liberia itself. The same applies for Somalia. Can those people tell me which country prints ballots outside their boarders?” Chanda asked.
“The problem that we have in Zambia is that we have too much negative energy. As long as it doesn’t come from me, it doesn’t benefit me or my party therefore I have to oppose. What we call throwing the baby with the bathe water. We cannot do that. So, the issue of printing ballot papers in Zambia is not even a debatable issue. It is a sovereignty issue, it is a national security issue. If you are going to print ballot papers in South Africa, Dubai, America you will finish the world printing your ballot papers.”
He said printing ballot papers abroad was not only costly but a sign that the country was disorganised.
“Apart from it being a very expensive exercise, it is also an issue showing that the country is so disorganised. Remember there was a company Universal Printers in South Africa. These guys that are crying used to go there, make a lot of allowances, and do all the shopping in Johannesburg. When the ballot papers come here [they claimed that] the elections have been rigged. [They said] no, we need to change now from South Africa to Dubai. So we went to Dubai where there were even better shops than in Johannesburg. The same people went to get allowances. Some of them came fat when they were arriving at the airport. Ba ile na malnutrition, ba bwela na bena,” charged Chanda.
“So, weather you print outside its rigging, you print in Zambia its rigging. I should mention that from 1964 up to 1991, ballot papers were always printed in Zambia. It was when MMD came in to power in 1996, that’s when they started this exercise of printing ballot papers out there. And that problem has actually cost us a lot of problems. Because we don’t know what’s happening outside the country. Now here we are saying, if ballot papers are printed in Zambia you know the location. If you want you can take your mattress, start sleeping there so that you monitor that there is no rigging.”