University of Zambia (UNZA) Political Science lecturer Dr Alex Ng’oma has advised politicians in Zambia to have faith in the electoral system, adding that it is not always possible for the incumbent to rig elections, as evidenced by the poll results in Congo DR where a little know opposition leader has upset the ruling party.

He said the election of Congolese president-elect Felix Tshisekedi signified the need for politicians to have faith in their own elections body, as opposed to intimidating them.

“Although people are saying that elections are always rigged by the incumbent, the election results in the DRC are suggesting otherwise. If elections are always rigged by the incumbent, there is no way the opposition could have actually won as it has happened in DRC. This dismisses the perception by some people that electoral bodies in Africa always favour the incumbent President and the ruling party in terms of election results. And this is one of the lessons people should learn from the Congo that actually, the opposition can be declared as winners of an election by the elections body,” Dr Ng’oma said.

“And actually, this is not unique to Congo, it has happened in Zambia before, in 2011; the same ECZ some people say is biased towards the incumbent, declared late president Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front as winner. Therefore, we must have respect and faith in our institutions charged with the responsibility to conduct elections such as the ECZ.”

And Dr Ng’oma cautioned politicians to refrain from intimidating the Electoral Commission of Zambia.

“We have heard sentiments from some people who have called the ECZ names and accused them of being biased even when there is no empirical evidence that proves such allegations. People should avoid intimidating the ECZ as this has potential to compromise the way they carry out their duty of conducting elections. There is nothing wrong that the Electoral Commission of Zambia has done for some people to start intimidating them; they must be given space to operate freely. If there are concerns of electoral violence and others, they should be raised in an amicable manner by concerned stakeholders. The ECZ is mandated by law to manage elections, and it is only fair that all stakeholders have faith in the institution. So, the results from DRC have proven that an electoral body can deliver a free and fair election. argued Dr Ngoma.

“As we go towards 2021, we must understand that the only way elections can be free, fair and peaceful is dependent on how we prepare prior to these elections. Political players must avoid confrontation as we go towards 2021 and approach issues with caution in order to avoid political provocation. The dialogue process may be a platform to help us prepare for 2021 and, hence, it must be transparent and inclusive. All stakeholders must go to the dialogue process with open minds in the spirit of give and take.”