UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says the voter apathy which characterised the Lusaka Mayoral polls is an indictment on the Electoral Commission of Zambia.

And Hichilema says President Edgar Lungu is a joker who cannot be trusted to uphold any resolutions that could come out of dialogue.

Speaking to journalists after casting his vote at Kabulonga Boys Secondary School, Thursday, Hichilema said it was clear that citizens did not trust ECZ to preside over free and fair elections.

“I think every citizen of Zambia must be concerned about the low voter turnout. Anybody and everybody who believes in democracy and the value that it brings to society, specifically the ability of citizens to choose the leader they desire, must be concerned about the low turn out. I think this is an indictment on the Electoral Commission of Zambia. The general survey, people are saying even if you vote the way you want, the Electoral Commission will manipulate the results against the wishes of the people. And this is now the result we are getting where citizens have lost confidence in the Electoral Commission of Zambia,” Hichilema said.

“I think it is only fair that we cannot allow one institutions inability, complicity, and also their conduct, especially for the 2016 election. Remember how the Electoral Commission announced 8,000 votes more than the number of people who voted. From there, Zambians have lost confidence in the Electoral Commission. They believe that their choice is not respected so we cannot afford to lose democracy because of one institution which is misbehaving. I think time has come for us as citizens now to demand and we should get a truly independent Electoral Commission which will run free, fair credible elections.”

Asked whether he believed UPND candidate Kangwa Chileshe would win, Hichilema could not give a categorical answer.

“Everyone wants their candidate to win, it’s normal, it’s natural. But you know that if voters are disenfranchised, they don’t vote because they have lost confidence in a body that runs elections, it means all candidates are disadvantaged and ultimately, citizens are disadvantaged in the sense that they don’t get the leadership that they deserve and they don’t get, therefore, the development that they deserve. Children will not be in school, those who are through with college won’t have jobs, as the situation is in the country today, it is because of the bad Electoral management,” he said.

“We need today, not tomorrow, a truly independent Electoral Commission. And a truly independent Electoral Commission which will deliver free, fair elections, credible elections from national registration issuance to voters registration, transparency to voting, to tallying, to recording the results. It is very important that that happens and we need that to happen in this country otherwise we will keep having less than the best leadership and people suffer, orphans suffer, because they will not have an opportunity for school. This is what Zambians must agree on. If we have an independent Electoral Commission who suffers? Who is harmed? Nobody. So we must all agree. Anyone who doesn’t agree to a truly independent Electoral Commission must be up to no good. It means he is manipulating this system.”

Hichilema also charged that it was not a coincidence that the ink used to mark the thumbs of those who had already voted was disappearing fast.

“Now look at the story of the ink, you heard the story of the ink in the morning and because the Electoral Commission is obviously conniving with a political party in Office, now this afternoon, a number of people have been caught voting twice because of this ink, it was not a mistake. It was deliberate, it was connivance. That is why we need a truly independent Electoral Commission,” he said.

And Hichilema said President Lungu was a joker, in response to a question on whether the peace accords which had been signed between his party and the PF would extend to the two political rivals.

“The country needs peace, needs stability, so you can have a platform for development. But accords are not to be a pattern of negative behavior. You sign accords, as it were a few days ago, that we will respect each other, that we will conduct ourselves accordingly, the following day, Mr Lungu was the one who was negating the very essence of that accord among the youths,” said Hichilema.

“Why do I say so? He went and basically dropped military men in a civilian Kanyama environment to stop us from having our rally. When he was supposed to be in Mandevu, we didn’t go to Mandevu to disturb him, he went to Kanyama to disturb us. So where is the spirit of seriousness? It is a joke. If you have a Head of State who is a joker in that manner, then what ink, what signature will you put down? So this is the problem, these are jokes. So we need development. For development to be achieved, we need peace and stability, coupled with good leadership.”

Apathy characterised the voting patten in yesterdays Mayoral election in Lusaka with most streams recording less 200 voters out of the registered 1,000 plus.