Zambians are anxiously awaiting the results of Thursday's by-election after casting their ballots for president. The electoral commission has been compiling the election results amid opposition accusations that the commission rigged the election on behalf of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy presidential candidate Rupiah Banda. Independent election observers say the election has been generally peaceful, but add that there were some instances of voting irregularities. The leader of the main opposition Patriotic Front, Michael Sata, claims the election was rigged, and has formally written to the electoral commission to express his dissatisfaction with the conduct of the vote. The winner of the election would replace late President Levy Mwanawasa who won international praise for his crackdown on graft and prudent economic policies.
Chris Akufunu is the communications director for Zambia's electoral commission. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the commission would begin announcing the results of the vote today.
"What is happening is the results are being compiled from the 6456 polling stations and after that process, the results are being sent to the constituency centers. We have 150 constituencies and each constituency has a center, so it is at the constituency that the results are totaled from each constituency and then they are announced. After that process the results are sent to the district center where they are now transmitted electronically through a wide-area-network and also by fax. And from the district they are being sent to the Electoral Commission of Zambia headquarters and from there they are transmitted to the result center here at Mulongoshi International Conference Center. And that is where the results then are announced," Akufunu pointed out.
He said the electoral commission aims to improve the quality of future elections.
"Indeed in any election, and I think this one is no exception, there are some elements that may not go as planned, which may be due to either human error or due to some technical reasons. And so we do realize that yes there are areas where the commission can improve in terms of its processes and implementing its plan and these we try as much as possible to do," he said.
Akufunu said the commission sees Zambia's election as a learning tool to make the vote better than previous ones.
"We look at every election as not just an election, but also a learning point and we want o improve at every election or processes so that we deliver a credible election for the Zambia people," Akufunu noted.
He said reiterated that the electoral commission invites all stakeholders in the election to express their concerns in order for the commission to address them ahead of any vote.
"The position of the commission is such that we have these consultations with political parties and in terms of improving electoral process we admit the electoral process can be better, and it is for that reason that we are constantly and consistently consulting with them. And when they raise issues, we do take note about the issues and we deal with them. And even as we speak, there were issues that were raised they are even in this election and we dealt with them. We tend to think that is the way forward to improve this whole electoral process," he said.