TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TI-Z) has urged the electorate to scrutinize political party manifestos in order to make informed decisions on who to vote for.

In a statement, Tuesday, TI-Z executive director Maurice Nyambe said it was important for the electorate to understand party manifestos as they provide a good insight into what to expect from specific candidates.

“As the nation heads to the polls in two days’ time, TI-Z would like to remind voters, particularly the undecided ones, of the importance of scrutinizing political party manifestos in order to make informed decisions on who to vote for. Political party manifestos represent the promises that the different candidates are making to the electorate and they provide a good insight into what to expect from specific political parties and their candidates,” he said.

Nyambe disclosed that TI-Z had, during the last few weeks, engaged in various activities aimed at evaluating publicly available party manifestos of the Socialist Party, PF and UPND.

“During the last few weeks, TI-Z has been engaged in a number of activities aimed at evaluating the publicly available political party manifestos of the Socialist Party, the Patriotic Front (PF), and the United Party for National Development (UPND), from an anti-corruption perspective. We first conducted an in-house analysis of the manifestos, whose results we released in previous weekly updates. We further collected views from university students on the effectiveness of anti-corruption strategies in the political party manifestos, before holding an inter-university debate on the subject. In addition to this, we also ran an opinion survey on our social media platforms, aimed at collecting views from the general public on political party manifestos and their strategies for the fight against corruption,” he said.

“More recently, TI-Z held a series of radio programmes aimed at collecting more information, beyond what is already contained in the political party manifestos, and also as a means of giving the concerned political parties an opportunity to speak to the Zambian public about their broader anti-corruption strategies. The radio programmes featured Dr Cosmas Musumali from the Socialist Party, Mr Cornelius Mweetwa from the UPND, and Mr Tutwa Ngulube from the PF. Following these activities, TI-Z will this week be releasing a series of infographics to showcase the anti-corruption strategies of these political parties. All the strategies will be contrasted with the views of the university students and the general public on what should be done to fight corruption in Zambia. It is our hope that this information will help the voters to make an informed decision as far as anti-corruption strategies are concerned.”

Nyambe further urged citizens to be on the lookout and report any cases of electoral corruption or malpractice.

“We wish to reiterate our belief that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has taken the necessary precautions to protect all voters from the risk of COVID-19 on the day of voting. We are also confident that the Zambia Police Service will provide the necessary security to enable voters to exercise their right in a peaceful environment with no threat of violence or other undesirable occurrences. Lastly, we urge members of the public to be on the lookout and report any cases of electoral corruption or malpractice that they may observe or be subjected to on the day of voting or in the lead up to that day,” he urged.

Nyambe further urged political parties to allow the electoral process to be concluded in its entirety.

“TI-Z is cognizant of the fact that elections tend to elicit different emotions among political parties and their representatives, particularly during the process of announcing results. Based on what we have observed from previous electoral processes, we wish to urge all political parties to allow the electoral process to play out in its entirety. We believe that the Constitution of Zambia, as amended in 2016 provides sufficient avenues for dealing with any concerns that may arise from the 12th August elections, and we strongly urge all stakeholders to adhere to the provisions of the supreme law of the land,” Nyambe urged.

“It is our hope as TI-Z that in the two days remaining before polling day and in the aftermath of the elections, no part of the country will be subjected to the political violence that we have witnessed over the last few weeks. We wish to remind all stakeholders within the electoral process that they all have an obligation and responsibility to maintain the peace that Zambia has enjoyed in the 57 years since independence, and not even the desire to win an election by any single party or candidate should threaten that peace. We do not subscribe to the notion of having to win an election at all costs.”

Nyambe further called on eligible voters to turn out in numbers to cast their votes.

“TI-Z wishes to remind citizens that it is their civic duty and responsibility to take part in the electoral process by exercising their right to vote. The exercise of this right is a fundamental aspect of our governance and will enable citizens to contribute to the growth of our democracy. We therefore urge all eligible voters to turn out in large numbers to cast their votes on their respective preferred candidates at all levels,” urged Nyambe.

“Lastly, as we go into polling day on Thursday, we would like to wish all the political parties and their candidates the very best of luck. We are sure that they have all done their level best to convince the masses to vote for them. However, the ultimate power to decide who will be entrusted with the responsibility of leadership at different levels lies in the hands of the voters, and it is our hope as TI-Z that all eligible voters across the breadth and length of Zambia will turn out in large numbers to exercise that power.”