UPND chairman for elections Gary Nkombo on Saturday evening got into a heated confrontation with the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) over the misallocation of results for Mazabuka Central constituency.
Speaking just after the Commission announced consolidated results for 62 constituencies, Nkombo alleged that Hakainde Hichilema’s 374 votes had been allocated to the PAC presidential candidate Andyford Banda.
“I am rising on the results that you have just announced from Mazabuka Central constituency. Earlier in the day, chairman of the Commission, we did have a meeting with your staff where we raised an issue on votes that were misallocated from Mr Hakainde Hichilema at the point of the production of the document for the Gen 20b, the consolidation of the Gen 20. We brought to your attention through your PR person that Mr Hakainde Hichilema’s 374 votes that were contained on gen 20 that I have, had been wrongly allocated to presidential candidate for PAC Mr Andyford Banda and that we sought an explanation. Your PR person told us that she was just mandated to interface with us and once she brings this matter before the experts of the Commission, we will then be reverted to, to settle our anxiety,” Nkombo said.
He said the Commission announced that Hichilema polled 39,554 instead of 39,928 in the said constituency.
“Our observation from the announcement that was made by Commissioner Simwinga who did Mazabuka has revealed that yes indeed you have corrected the mistake that happened in Mazabuka by way of giving back Mr Hichilema his votes. But they were not 374 because he is still short by a few votes. The figure that you should have announced is 39,928 instead of what you have announced of 39,554. The figure for Mr Andyford Banda should have read 41 votes but on your document, it is reading 412,” he said.
“We wish to get you to reconcile these figures when we meet tomorrow at whatever time you wish us to meet. That is our concern, I suspect there was no thoroughness in looking at the document. The document I have which I am ready to surrender to you here and now signed by all political parties including PF reveals that Mr Hakainde Hichilema got 39,928 votes. So I wonder how you could go ahead and announce the figure of 39,554 which is incorrect. So maybe that is something we can work on, sleep over it and correct tomorrow if need permits. We want every single vote for our candidate, no matter whether it is one, two or three.”
ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano then told Nkombo that the Commission would have to check the documents as it was premature to comment.
“I will have to look at the documents that are being made reference to. We have documents that are used for the election process starting with the Gen 20 to the record of proceedings and provisional proceedings, then you get the final. So in terms of the process, what happens is that you have the Gen 20 which will be taken at the totalling center, at the center, you have records of proceedings which are provisional as the results come in and these are given to the stakeholders for verification. Once that has been done, there is a final record of proceedings and indeed the issuance of the Gen 21 which stakeholders sign up to. So, I need to check what Mr Nkombo is referring to. I think it will be premature for us to comment on that,” he said.
Nshindano further expressed concern that Nkombo rushed to the media before he reconciled the matter with the Commission.
“I do take notice that he has already gone to the media before even reconciliation is done. And I think on the part of leadership, it is important that you communicate before you even run to the media. The country is tense already as it is, as the results come and we expect responsibility from every leader to ensure that at the time the results are coming out, everything is in order. We take note of that and we will take note of the documents you have and we will be able to verify what you have indicated,” said Nshindano.
But Nkombo said he spoke to the media because the Commission was gagging people’s expressions.
“The documents are ready for submission right now but taking advantage of your response at the expense of making dialogue between yourself and I, yes, we did talk to the press because what is going on here is a public affair. There was no malice whatsoever in us letting the country know what we are going through. What prompted us to do so is because there has been this tendency of gagging people’s expressions in this room. So as you go to bed please rethink the issue of giving the people freedom of expression so that we can move in one vehicle and arrive at a good product whenever you decide to inaugurate the next president,” he said.
ECZ vice-chairperson Emily Sikazwe then chipped in and told Nkombo to allow the Commission to rest.
”If you want us to be very thorough, you should allow us to rest. This is very important. Give us the document tonight, all I am saying is that we have a lot of work tomorrow because the nation is waiting for the results and it is the same people here that have to check on some of the things you are raising. And also our staff that sleep here in order for us to have documents ready, are being delayed. It is important that we work together on this so that we finish the job correctly and quickly. We ask that if there are any issues, let them be resolved quickly without having us play to the gallery,” she said.
Sikazwe’s response, however, infuriated Nkombo who accused her of patronising him.
“Excuse me! I take great exception… I think you are patronizing me for you to say I am playing to the gallery. There is no gallery here,” Nkombo responded.
Here is how their conversation went:
Sikazwe: The gallery was outside, if you had an issue…
Nkombo: Excuse me, you provided that platform for people to communicate so let us not argue here because I respect all of you. Goodnight!
Sikazwe: You don’t.
At this point, ECZ chairperson Esau Chulu called for the session to adjourn.
“Thank you very much, let us respect each other and we adjourn this session to tomorrow. As announced, we will be back at mid day,” said Chulu.