UPND President Hakainde Hichilema says the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is breeding seeds of chaos in the manner they are handling the electoral process.

And Hichilema has charged that ECZ has agreed to aid PF to rig the 2021 elections.

Speaking to journalists at a media briefing, Wednesday, Hichilema said the four-day extension period to the voter registration process was illegal.

He said ECZ should stop playing games as it was clear that the electoral calendar which was set by the Commission was marred with confusion.

“It is very clear that the four-day voter registration period will not deal with the problems that we are facing in the voter’s registration process. So it is a mockery, it is actually confrontational by the Electoral Commission of Zambia to decide on their own and maybe motivated by a few quarters to make a decision. The flaws in their own systems, the breakdowns particularly so in certain regions of our country, they are aware that citizens had to spend 16 hours on the queue. It is a problem they created, it is a problem they are well aware of. It is a problem they were informed,” Hichilema said.

“They were advised that it was not possible to register nine million people in the manner they planned it. So why would ECZ be confrontational? Why would ECZ invite citizens to battle, when they knew that what they were pronouncing was not possible? It can only mean two things, primarily one: that ECZ from the beginning planned to rig this election. From the beginning ECZ planned to disenfranchise the eligible voters. What happened yesterday is the confirmation of the suspicions, the speculations that where there from the beginning that ECZ [was] conniving with certain stakeholders to create chaos, to breed chaos in the electoral process.”

And Hichilema accused ECZ of aiding PF in trying to rig the 2021 poll.

“Here is an electoral body against all advice which decides to proceed by sowing seeds of discontent, seeds of chaos in a country’s electoral process. Now to benefit who? Your guess is as good as mine but we should put it clearly it is to benefit a political party that is in public office today. So ECZ instead of being the supervisor, they have decided to aid the PF, they have decided to help the PF to stay in office. Zambians should reject an electoral body which is owned by the people of Zambia, abusing the mandate it has been given in order to support a political party. A public institution that is supposed to, through a transparent free and fair electoral process, help the country maintain peace and order, [but] it is an institution that is actually breeding chaos. We as Zambians should say no to that. Millions of young people will not be registered to vote, they will be denied their choice of leadership. So what are you forcing Zambians to do? Masquerading as an Electoral Commission of Zambia, what are you forcing Zambians to do? You are telling Zambians that they can’t choose their leadership, they must stay with the mediocre leadership that is there,” Hichilema said.

“ECZ has now become an agent of the party occupying public office and therefore colluding with the party occupying public office to make Zambians continue experiencing a high cost of living. It is the ECZ who is scheming to see Zambians suffer even after 2021. The misdemeanors are evident; we understand that each province has one team. A province has one unit in the voter’s registration process, we want to challenge ECZ, we understand and we are waiting for ECZ to tell us that in some provinces such as Eastern Province one province has been zoned into two; where by more registration staff have been sent there but in one province, only one zone. More registration machines have been sent there. So it means more man power, we understand that 2000 were recruited to beef up the registration process capacity in Eastern Province, in Luapula, in Northern, in Muchinga provinces. Was the ECZ created for four provinces or 10 provinces? Other staff in other regions in terms of registration staff are given K5,500 per month as allowance, in these four provinces these additional people that have been sent we understand, we want ECZ to refute these allegations, that staff are given K750 per day. In addition to what we hear, a number of PF cadres have been sent to be registration officials as part time officials by ECZ.”

Hichilema said the four-days extension to the voter registration was illegal.

“So we want ECZ to explain to us why they are disturbing the peace and order in our country? They should have been doing continuous voter registration immediately after the 2016 elections, that is what the law says. Then they create these illegal provisions of 30 days and seven days per polling station and now an extension of four days, this is illegal! Completely illegal. If the ECZ and those in the PF are ignoring the rule of law, so how is this country going to be ordered? What rule book are we going to use if we are not using the Constitution, we are not using the Electoral Act, how are you going to conduct elections in 2021? On what rule? If you are not following the law to continue registering people until everybody is registered, so what law are you using?” Hichilema questioned.

“The Judiciary must listen and follow what is going on because it is the one that we must all go to seek recourse when you have institutions of government breaking the law. When they go to the Judiciary, the Judiciary must deal with these matters quickly so that they can contribute to peace building. The Malawian Judiciary provided justice when the Electoral Commission in Malawi stole the elections from the Malawians, the Judiciary restored the rights of the Malawians. Our Zambian Judiciary should be no different, we don’t want to go to court after the election. We want the Judiciary as we go to court, in fact they are matters in court already, to restore the legal provisions of citizens to be registered all the time.”

He said the ECZ should stop playing games.

“ECZ stop playing games! We told you that what you are doing will not work. What ECZ is doing is going to bring chaos in this country. Then they will be looking for someone to blame when the one who is bringing chaos is active in the day. Then you blame HH, ‘let us arrest him, if he makes any small mistake next time, we are going to arrest him’, I was looking at this boy (Stephen) Kampyongo talking like that. ECZ has sowed the seed of chaos. In a normal situation the ECZ should have gone to the CSO to give them the projections. So where did they get the projections? Manipulation! We know the people in the ECZ that are creating this crisis, colluding with the small number of people in the PF, so that they can benefit,” he said.

“Young Nshindano is announcing a departure from the law. You could even read his lips that he doesn’t believe in what he was announcing. At that so-called summit of Presidents on the electoral process we raised these issues. We talked about the calendar, I said the calendar you have put on that screen is unreasonable because the processes you have outlined are overlapping. There will be a period of petition if you don’t believe that a candidate qualifies, you petition but in that calendar that he announced yesterday they will start printing ballot papers before the period of challenging any candidate through a petition is over. If you print ballot papers before the challenge period is over what if one candidate is disqualified? I can tell you that they are still living in the confusion of Bill 10. That was one of the provisions that was sitting in Bill 10. So you can see how evil Bill 10 was? What Nshindano announced yesterday is illegal but you can see the confusion in what he announced; overlaps, underestimations. With respect, the young man is confused, right now he is confused because he is getting instructions right, back, center, front, ‘no do this so that you can help us stay in office’.”

Hichilema said the PF was taking the country back to a one party state.

“Can you imagine your slogan is to move in reverse gear ‘Dununa Reverse’ these are the consequences of Dununa Reverse. Citizens must study these slogans. We are saying let us move forward and someone is telling you ‘Dununa reverse’. These are the reverse gears, this is what they do, they destroy a country. I can see signs of the PF wanting to go back to a one party state. You will regret as citizens. Where we are now [sure] there is a scheme to take us back to one party state which will be brutal,” said Hichilema.