THE Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) says despite the many challenges during the pre-election period, the Electoral Commission of Zambia conducted a well-organised and credible election.

Giving a verification statement on the accuracy of the official 2021 Presidential results, Monday, CCMG steering committee chairperson Fr Emmanuel Chikoya urged Zambians to be confident that ECZ’s official presidential results were accurate and reflected the ballots cast.

He said this was because CCMG’s PVT estimates were in tandem with ECZ’s official results for the presidential election.

“Overall, while there were serious challenges during the pre-election period that raised questions about the fairness and credibility of the electoral process, the ECZ conducted a well-organized and credible election day process that largely adhered to official procedures, and both PF and UPND party agents were involved through the voting and counting across all provinces. Given that the CCMG’s PVT estimates verify the ECZ’s official results for the presidential election, all Zambians should have confidence that the ECZ’s official presidential results are accurate and reflect the ballots they cast at polling stations. We commend the ECZ for meticulously tabulating the presidential results and announcing results in line with its mandate,” Fr Chikoya said.

“As we stated during the preliminary statement, CCMG completed its PVT by 12 noon on Friday 13 August 2021 with over 99% of our monitors having sent in their observation reports. Had it proved necessary, CCMG would have released its PVT estimates if we had any indication there was manipulation of the official results. We commend the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) for fulfilling its constitutional duty with honour and are grateful to them for not having to do so. CCMG now confirms that its PVT verifies that ECZ’s official presidential results reflect the ballots cast at polling stations.”

Fr Chikoya called on the new UPND government to work with Zambians for the betterment of the country.

“Now that the results for the 2021 presidential election have been announced and independently verified, CCMG calls on the winners, and their supporters, to be magnanimous in victory and to work with all Zambians for the good of the country. We have pressing development challenges made more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic. We call on the winners to govern on behalf of all Zambians and on all Zambians to work together, drawing on our diverse talents, to build a better life for ourselves and our children,” he said.

“To those who unsuccessfully contested elections, and their supporters, CCMG notes that our independent non-partisan observation on behalf of all Zambians clearly shows that while the process was not perfect, the official results for the presidential election reflect the ballots cast. We call upon all Zambians to remain calm and to resolve any electoral disputes that may arise peacefully through the appropriate legal procedures.”

He said there was need to improve the country’s electoral and governance processes.

“While CCMG is proud of Zambians and our institutions that have delivered an election that reflects the choice of the people, we must strive to improve our electoral and governance processes to address the many shortcomings that threaten the quality of our democracy, governance and future electoral processes. First, Zambians must examine why we continue to experience unacceptable levels of political violence and polarization and begin to work together on solutions,” Fr Chikoya said.

“Second, while CCMG commends the ECZ for conducting an election that overall provided Zambians with an opportunity to determine their government, as noted in our preliminary statement, CCMG urges the ECZ to engage with stakeholders in a more constructive and timely manner going forward and to increase its commitment to transparency by sharing key information, such as electoral process procedures and the voters register in an analysable format to allow for independent review.”

Fr Chikoya said CCMG would issue a comprehensive final report on the 2021 general elections.

“Third, the 2021 elections, like those before, were marred by candidates and their supporters from all political parties making specious arguments about the conduct of the elections and the ECZ. These superficially plausible but false accusations unnecessarily heighten political tensions and unduly undermine public confidence in our nascent electoral institutions as well as the long-term democratic development of the country,” said Chikoya.

“Following the elections, CCMG will issue a comprehensive final report on the 2021 general elections. It will include detailed recommendations on how we can further strengthen our elections and democracy. CCMG is committed to working with the ECZ and all stakeholders to learn from these elections to improve future ones and hopes to capitalize on the strong momentum provided by Zambian citizens in this election to address areas of needed reform in many areas.”