THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says it does not engage in manoeuvres and manipulations of elections, insisting that what the final results will be is what will be announced regardless of the winner.

And ECZ says it hopes to announce the winner of Thursday’s polls within 72 hours after the close of the last polling station.

Meanwhile, the Commission says it has put measures in case of an interruption of the internet.

Speaking during a press briefing, Tuesday, ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano said the Commission would announce the duly elected candidate.

“Let us guard our elections, let us ensure we transmit the correct information. We will guarantee that one’s vote is protected and what you are going to vote for, what the final result will be, is what will be announced regardless of the winner. Because that is the constitutional mandate of the Commission, to conduct elections and declare the duly elected candidate for that particular election. The Commission does not engage in maneuvers and manipulation of elections,” he said.

When asked why the Commission had many access points on the biometric system, Nshindano said it was for efficiency purposes.

“The ECZ does not manipulate. The ECZ follows the guidelines as per law. All those that are registered are in line with the law. One must be a Zambian citizen and holder of a green national registration card. And the registration exercise was also complemented by the capture of the biometric data. So even if I scan your barcode, you have biometric data that is sitting on your card to reflect that particular individual. You cannot manufacture an individual. Access points are for efficiency and not for manipulation. And please let us not run with this narrative as we get into the elections,” he said.

Nshindano said the Commission was prepared in an event of a re-run

“So far we are at approximately 85 percent of the budget. The Commission’s budget was K1.5 billion. This is something that we have budgeted for. So we are ready for a rerun in an event that there is a rerun. And the law does provide for that so the Commission recognizes that and we have to ensure that, that is done,” he said.

Nshindano further stated that the Commission hoped that the announcement of results would be within 72 hours after the close of the last polling station.

“The target is that the Commission maximum time it should take is 72 hours after the close of the last polling station. So if the last polling station closes for argument’s sake at 22:00 hours on poll day, you count 72 hours from there, that is the maximum. It can even be before that depending on the efficiency and we hope that it will be before. But our target is that within 72 hours, we would have declared the winner of the election,” he responded.

He further raised concern on why many political parties did not take advantage of campaigning in correctional facilities when the law was in place.

And when asked if the Commission was prepared in the event that there was an internet shutdown, ECZ Director ICT Dylan Kasonde responded in the affirmative.

He further said stakeholders such as political parties were consulted on the biometric verification.

“Are we ready if there is an interruption of the internet, that is something that we have factored in, we look at various scenarios and that is one of the scenarios that the Commission has looked at and we have planned for that,” said Kasonde.

“The commission has held several discussions with stakeholders from last November. About the introduction of this device, political parties were engaged. Usually, the centres with high voter turnouts are the ones that delay the process. The voting process takes longer. Additionally, the counting process takes longer so this impacts the time that the Commission takes to announce results. We only have 949 devices out there. We don’t have for the entire country. So if people spend less time casting their vote that way, people will be able to vote faster and the polling station will close much earlier to allow for the counting of results.”