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Zambia Preparing for Presidential By-election

  • Peter Clottey

FILE - Zambian police sits at the Civic Center in Lusaka, Zambia, as election volunteers carry ballot boxes, September 22, 2011.

FILE - Zambian police sits at the Civic Center in Lusaka, Zambia, as election volunteers carry ballot boxes, September 22, 2011.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is to begin printing ballot papers for next month's presidential by-election, says Priscilla Isaac, director of elections at the electoral body.

She says nine presidential candidates have filed nomination papers with the electoral body to represent their parties in the January 20 poll. The ECZ says Tuesday is the deadline for filing the nomination. Isaac said three presidential aspirants have pulled out of the January vote.

The constitution mandates the ECZ to organize fresh presidential by-election within 90 days following the death of a sitting head of state. This comes after the death of President Michael Sata in October.

Isaac said the ECZ will be ready to administer the vote.

“We are on course with our preparations. As soon as we finish with the filing of the nominations on Tuesday, then we will proceed to prepare with the printing of the ballot papers, which will be done in South Africa with a company called Ren-Form cc. We’ve used them to print ballot papers for by-elections and also in terms of the other election materials we need booths and so forth,” said Isaac.

“We have received additional supplies for the items we were running low on and we have already finished the distribution of the bulky items. The non-security items like ballot boxes, tables, chairs, and tents to the districts,” she added.

Isaac said the electoral body will work with the Zambia Air force to help the ECZ to transport election officials as well as sensitive materials to and from remote parts of the country that are not easily accessible due to the heavy January rainfall season.

Isaac says international partners including USAID have pledged about $ 2.8 million to help fund the electoral commission to organize the vote.

“We do have adequate funding. Our total budget is about [$ 60 million]. And we’ve received supplementary assistance from the cooperating partners through a basket fund that would be coordinated by the United Nations Development program (UNDP), here in Lusaka,” said Isaac.

She said the electoral body has established conflict management committees at both national and district levels to address cases including electoral malpractices and voter irregularities.

“If the party or parties are dissatisfied with the outcome of the manner in which their complaints are dealt with, then the only other course is by way of an election petition and that can only be done after the election,” said Isaac. “There are those malpractices which may require the intervention of the police, and in that instance the police will step in and arrest and charge persons who there is a complaint against if the need arises.”