electoral commission is today (Thursday) expected to begin verifying votes from
last week's presidential election making it possible for the opposition to
challenge the result in court. Main opposition leader Michael Sata of the
Patriotic Front party claims the electoral commission rigged the vote for the
presidential candidate of the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy. Rupiah
Banda was sworn in Sunday after the electoral commission declared him winner of
the presidential by-election to replace late President Levy Mwanawasa.
Fred Mtesa is a
Zambian political analyst. From the capital, Lusaka he tells reporter Peter
Clottey that the looming court challenge could strengthen Zambia's democratic
"I think it is an important
step in the development of the electoral process in Zambia because it means the
aggrieved party has an opportunity to lay their grievances through the legal
process," Mtesa noted.
He said previous
presidential candidates have challenged election results after they were
"In the first place Mr. Sata
is not the first losing presidential candidate to challenge the result of a
presidential election in Zambia. In 2001, three losing contestants Mr. Mazoka,
Christian Tembo and General Godfrey Miyanda petitioned the results of the
presidential election, and they went to court. And of course in the end, the
Supreme Court of Zambia ruled that the late President Levy Mwanawasa was duly
elected as president of the republic of Zambia, although the court said there
were anomalies," he said.
Mtesa said the main
opposition leader is not content with the election results.
"For Mr. Sata in 2001 he did
not challenge the election results, in 2006 he did complain. And it is
understandable given the growing popularity of his party in the urban areas,
particularly in Lusaka and the Copper Belt where he swept the votes. I think it
is understandable that he feels aggrieved," Mtesa pointed out.
He said poll observers were
unanimous about the credibility of the October 30th presidential
"The election was held under
very difficulty conditions, and the Electoral Commission of Zambia was called
upon to prepare at a very short notice. But we had reports from monitors of the
Africa Union, the SADC (Southern African Development Community) monitors and
also local monitors who adjudged that the election were conducted in a free and
fair atmosphere," he said.
Mtesa said there was a need
to allow the electoral process to flourish.
"It is difficult to say what
the court would decide and would have to look at the evidence. And I think for
now the right thing to do for every observer is to allow the due process of the
law to take its course and it would be a test of the Zambia constitution and to
see what would happen in the event that the court ruled that the election was
fraudulent," Mtesa noted.
opposition leader Sata claims the election was marked by discrepancies between
vote tallies and the number of voters on registration lists and is ready to
challenge the results in court. Under Zambian law, the verification of ballots
is required before an aggrieved politician can ask the court to demand all
ballots to be recounted.