RAINBOW party general secretary Wynter Kabimba says if rigging existed in Zambia, PF wouldn’t have won elections in 2011.
And Kabimba says there’s nothing abnormal about government’s request for debt suspension because the trend is common, even at individual level.
Meanwhile, Kabimba says President Edgar Lungu should tell the nation what action will be taken on the Commission of Inquiry into Voting Patterns’ recommendations so that the issues raised do not repeat themselves in the next general election.
In an interview, Kabimba said he did not understand why some politicians were attacking the Electoral Commission of Zambia for wanting to entirely change the voters register when they had always claimed there were ghost voters on the voters roll.
“If you remember, one of the main complaints by stakeholders about the current voter’s roll has been that it is full of ghost voters and that many people who registered as far back as 1996 are now dead, some of them have left the country but are still reflected in the current voters roll. And the demand has been that clean up the voters roll. There have been complaints that the current voter roll contains voters from other countries especially the neighboring countries like Malawi when they are not eligible to vote. Those concerns and apprehensions are valid. So, ECZ comes round and says ‘okay, yes we agree with you that we must clean up the voters roll and the way we are going to do it now is to do a parallel system. On one hand, we shall run an online voter registration so those of you that have access to this technology especially in urban areas, you can save your time from going to the polling station to physically go to register. You only go there when the time comes for you to go and physically register and check your particulars.’ On the other hand, ECZ is saying that if you can’t access these technologies, you can still use the old methods and go to the polling station of your choice and register,” Kabimba said.
“So, I really do not understand and I need somebody to explain to me how the increase in number of voters from 6 million registered voters in 2016 to 9 million in 2021 can lead to rigging an election. From my experience of participating in elections from 1996 to 2016, I can tell you that it is very difficult to rig an election in this country. When ECZ introduced the system of posting results at the polling station immediately after the results have been counted, and political parties don’t have to receive the results at the totaling centre, it made it very easy for every political party which has structures on the ground to make sure that no other political party would tamper those results or rig the election. If that were true, PF would not have won the election in 2011.”
Kabimba as long as a political party was well organised, there was no way anyone could tamper with their results.
“What we did as PF in 2011 was that we set up a team to run a parallel vote tabulation system across the country. In areas where the network was bad, we actually hired from South Africa satellite phones and distributed them to those areas so that we can get the results as quickly as possible. I can tell you from that experience that on Thursday, 23rd September 2011 when ECZ was to announce the results, we already knew that we had won. And I sent a message to Justice [Irene] Mambilima that these are the results. And we totaled the remaining constituencies, we said to ourselves that even if MMD got 100 per cent in all these constituencies, they will still not catch-up with PF. So, what helped us attain that achievement was that we had the party structures on the ground. And if you have mobilized the party on the ground and you have the structure on the ground, there is no way anybody can tamper or rig those results. So, I don’t agree with those who say that ECZ is trying to rig the elections in 2021,” Kabimba said.
Kabimba, however, agreed with calls for the ECZ to extend the voter registration period.
“The point which they probably have which all of us should disagree with ECZ is that the timeline for voter registration is short. That one I support. And surely, extending this period of 30 days to 45 days or thereabout, or 60 days, I don’t think that will adversely affect their calendar. I think ECZ must bend backward and yield to that demand to extend the period. But to argue that ECZ is bent on rigging the election is unfair to the men and women at ECZ,” he said.
And Kabimba said it was normal to ask for debt repayment.
“It is normal to ask for debt repayment deferment. Even at individual level, if I owe you money and I promise you that I will pay on 30th September and I find that I do not have the capacity to pay, civility requires that I get back to you and say that ‘I have difficulties in honoring up my promise. Can you give me another two weeks so that I can pay.’ So, I don’t know what is difficult about that when it comes to a country. Why is that a big issue that it can generate so much debate? If you are incapacitated in terms of repayment, go back to the people that lent you money and say ‘I can’t make it, and you discuss. If they agree, you agree on the period of payment,” Kabimba said.
Meanwhile, Kabimba asked President Lungu to tell the nation what action he had taken on the recommendations made by the commission of inquiry into violence and voting patterns.
“One would have thought that after the submission of that report, the President would expeditiously deal with that report so that some of the recommendations of the commission of inquiry can be implemented to ensure that the 2021 elections are not tainted by the same things that caused the subsequent commission of inquiry. The demand would be that let the President tell the nation what the findings of the commission of inquiry are and what steps he has taken in ensuring that the recommendations of the commission of inquiry are acted upon in order to prevent a recurrence of what we saw in 2016 which was the basis of the establishment of that commission of inquiry,” said Kabimba.