UPND vice-president Mutale Nalumango says it is misleading for ECZ Chief Electoral Officer Patrick Nshindano to argue that it’s impossible to rig elections in this country.

And Nalumango says Nshindano’s remarks that the commission cannot guarantee a peaceful political environment implies that rigging is already at play.

On Monday, Nshindano said it was practically impossible for anyone to rig an election owing to a secure system in place.

Reacting to this in an interview, Tuesday, Nalumango charged that attempts to rig the August 2021 elections were already underway.

“I don’t believe him. I don’t believe Nshindano. Tell me, what is rigging? Is it just manipulation of the data? Rigging starts way before the data can ever be manipulated. Every detail must be made clear, right now, the rigging is already there. The electoral process began with a lot of questions, it means there is something wrong. Nshindano should have been listening to us. Nshindano knew how badly they did the registration. Even now Nshindano should not think that Zambia has become electronic. The issue of voter verification is in question. Why is the physical [inspection of the process] being limited whereas the electronic verification is being given a lot of time? Knowing that when they started the voter registration, they gave an opportunity for people to go and register online which failed basically. So, how does he think that e-verification will succeed? And why are they not announcing to the people to go and verify? There are many people in the compounds, in the villages that don’t have phones, so how do they know about all these things? Already to me that is something which is in question,” Nalumango said.

“Why are they allowing issues on the table like the cyber security bill. Why are they allowing issues to do with electoral processes where they are even allowing to scare people that you cannot talk about elections results before the official ones? Everybody knows there is official and unofficial, why should they be imprisoned for life if I announce what I know? Why can’t they just verify? Is it not their duty? So, all those issues that are scare mongering or bring scare or fear into the hearts of people does not show a credible process. He has to look at that, why are they hiding all those things? These things are emotive because it’s unfair. You cannot have a country where people have no freedoms, the process must be transparent and open. How can he say its impossible to rig? Hasn’t he seen election results taken to court and overturns because they were irregular, meaning someone rigged? What happens in such situations if he says it’s straight forward? I can give you Mushindamo? Remember? They announced deliberately wrong results.”

And Nalumango said Nshindano’s remarks that the commission could not guarantee a peaceful environment implied that rigging was already in play.

“I would want to believe him but we have seen these things. Nshindano maybe fairly new but we are not new as a people. There are systems of election manipulation, not just the manipulation of numbers. If he says he cannot control the playing field, well then, our friends have begun rigging. The so-called Gen 20, his own officials were refusing to give agents to sign G12, why? What could have been the purpose? Let him come out and clearly say every election official, the presiding officers who fail to give Gen 20 or is it 21 now. Let him say those will be found with a case to answer because that should be mandatory so that everybody should be walking out of a polling station with a copy. They don’t do that, why? To hide the real figures. Rigging of an election starts way before that. If the playing field is not level, already that is rigging,” said Nalumango.

“Even that server you should know who are the major stakeholders so that everybody has a clear mind, when you lose an election in a normal manner over a level playing field, my dear that is normal but when you lose with questions, it’s not correct, it’s unfair and it’s rigging. So, for him to say there cannot be rigging, he should not look at one factor. Already he is colluding by not having the process transparent enough, when he has been arguing with things that we have done, traditionally that people must monitor the printing of ballot papers, and he says those who have money, PF have stolen money. So, they can monitor the printing, is that not a cause for concern? Nshindano, I am sorry, he has not done well at all. He has been like a tool, you know. He is not even the man to say this must be done, this must not be done. For us we are wondering and we had a lot of hope that he would do things right. But he is the least consultative among the people who have been there. Decisions have been made even at policy level without consulting major stakeholders which we believe we are as a party. For him when he says come, then it’s information giving. When will he discuss it with people? He doesn’t discuss.”