A senior official of the Electoral Commission of Zambia says the organization is ready to supervise a credible presidential by-election on Tuesday. Official campaigning ends on Monday ahead of the poll.
The commission's director of elections, Priscilla Isaac, says both sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been dispatched to ensure all polling centers across the country can open on time for the vote.
“We have really tried to be on top of things and we will be ready to open polling station on time on the 20th,” says Isaac. “We dispatched the last set of ballot papers to the districts - that was Thursday. So all the ballot papers are all in the districts and now just waiting for the deployment to the respective polling stations with the polling staff ... We know that everybody will be in place by the 19th at all their respective polling stations, in readiness for the polls on Tuesday.”
She says political parties were part of the verification process of the ballot papers, and that the parties appeared satisfied with the entire process.
Some Zambians have expressed concern about violence after supporters from the ruling Patriotic Front and opposition United Party for National Development clashed in parts of the country in the midst of their campaigns.
Isaac says the electoral body is working with the parties to encourage a halt to such attacks.
“We are particularly concerned with PF and UPND because it is basically them that have been involved in skirmishes between their cadres and supporters," she says. "All the political parties made a pledge to promote peace for campaign, and also to ensure that restrain their cadres and supporters from violence. Both presidents for PF and UPND made a public commitment that they would not support any violence from any of their supporters, calling on their supporters that even if they are provoked they should restrain themselves and restrain themselves from provoking [others],” she said.
Isaac says the electoral commission implemented measures to ensure the election is transparent and credible.
“The Zambian electorate and stakeholders in general have seen for themselves that we have improved tremendously in our management of the process,” said Isaac. “2011, we had a credible election and we have a history of two instances of power changing hands and it has been done peacefully. We have done our level best to make sure that everything is in place for the voter on Tuesday.”
She said the electoral commission has also improved on the electronic system that will be used to transmit results from all polling stations to the commission’s headquarters in the capital, Lusaka.
“We would be able to be alerted if there is any attempt of mischief to disturb the transition or interfere with the transmission,” said Isaac. “We have a backup system of receiving election results by fax to assist us in verifying, and we will have a tough verification process.”