PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says elections have not been free and fair in three provinces, namely Southern, North Western and Western, as they were characterised by violence. He claims that the ruling party’s polling agents were brutalised and chased away from polling stations and were not able to follow the counting of ballots. The Head of State says for this reason, the Electoral Commission of Zambia must stop announcing the rest of the results, until his concern is addressed.
President LUNGU: “Right now, some of our agents and supporters are in hiding because of these criminal acts. How can the elections be fair when people have been murdered and many others are in hiding after being brutalised. Is that democracy? We have written to the Electoral Commission of Zambia, but they have continued announcing the results. So, we are consulting on the next decision we have to make. With polling agents having been attacked and chased from polling stations, we were reduced to competing in seven provinces while our opponent was contesting in 10 provinces.”
This is a very unfortunate statement coming from a President who claims to be a lawyer. This man ought to know that the Electoral Commission of Zambia has no basis or authority to do what he is asking them to do. There is no way that the Commission can stop announcing results on grounds that one candidate feels the electoral process was not free and fair. What Mr Lungu is talking about are allegations, not facts and a qualified lawyer is expected to know that such claims of rigging and vote manipulation can only be settled by the Constitutional Court.
Those who have access to Mr Lungu in State House must advise him to keep his claims and allegations to himself until the Commission finishes announcing the results of the election. After the president elect is declared by the commission, the law gives any competitor in the election an opportunity to now petition the outcome within a specified period of time. This is the window that Mr Lungu must look forward to, as it will present him an opportunity to provide proof of the claims he is making today. It is Mr Lungu’s turn to petition the election outcome, so let him be patient.
People like Sukwana Lukangaba, Zumani Zimba, Andrew Chellah, Amos Chanda, Kaizer Zulu, Emmanuel Mwamba, Antony Mukwita, Milingo Lungu and others who are meeting with the President must use their interactions to persuade him not to do wrong things. Any schemes that he embarks on at this stage will do nothing to help him. If anything, they will make his position worse. Surely, these friends and colleagues that are meeting with him know that their position is untainable now.
Our people must understand that Mr Lungu is not the only one entitled to complain about this election, there could be those who believe that Mr Hichilema has won this election by as much as 62 per cent.
In fact, we must also remind Mr Lungu that when the winner of the election is announced and he decides to petition, the law does not recognize him as a Head of State during that period. He breached this provision of the law in 2016 and got away with it, he must not make the mistake of thinking he can still get away with it this time around.
That said, we have some questions to ask Mr Lungu. What does it say about him as a Head of State when he complains that the elections were not free and fair? He was and still is the Commander in Chief of the Armed forces and cadres, the Police Inspector General was appointed by him, he is the one who commanded the soldiers to go on the streets and take charge of the electoral process, the Commissioners at the ECZ who are announcing the election results are his appointees. Is Mr Lungu trying to suggest that Mr Hichilema had the power to command the army behind his back and to give ECZ instructions on the results to announce? Is he trying to tell the world that he had no authority in those three provinces he is complaining about?
Mr Lungu must also be reminded that he is the one who had unrestricted access to the voters. He campaigned from August 2016 to August 2021, not even the Covid-19 public health guidelines stopped him from touring the country. While his rivals were being prevented from moving and being teargassed, Mr Lungu enjoyed the benefits of the incumbency and went everywhere he pleased to tell all sorts of lies about his opponents. In fact, his last campaign message was that he was going to arrest Mr Hichilema once re-elected into office over claims that the UPND leader sold state assets to enrich himself. Mr Lungu said all these things knowing too well that he was lying. How can he be the one to complain that the elections are not free and fair?
This is the same person who told the foreign election observers that they should not leave the country early because there was going to be a lot of crying after the election results are announced. Who is the cry baby now? How can he be the one to take lead in the crying? Mr Lungu cannot say the elections were not fair only because the outcome does not favour him.
In 2016, when Mr Hichilema complained about the elections being unfair, Mr Lungu was laughing and mocking his opponent. Let him him have a taste of his own medicine. His rigging allegations must be shoved for now, he will be given an opportunity to cry to his Constitutional Court. And talking about the Constitutional court, those judges there must learn from this election that you cannot fight the will of the people and win!