Tuesday, 14 October 2008
CONFUSION STEAL LIMELIGHT AT PRESIDENTIAL BALLOT VERIFICATION
Members of different political parties and other stakeholders clash during the voter verification exercise in Lusaka.
TEMPERS flared during the presidential ballots verification exercise in Lusaka when elections agents from political parties demanded that the extra 600, 000 ballots papers be identified and destroyed before the programme could start.
The elections agents started shouting on top of their voices inside a disused hanger at Lusaka international airport where the ballots are being stored.
At some point, the elections agents differed in opinion among themselves and started opposing each other.
Confusion reigned as each individual wanted to be heard. This caused a near punch-up but alert police officers intervened and brought the opposing factions under control.
This is the second that the 600, 000 extra ballots have raised dust after the initial saga when the elections agents refused Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) explanations on why the ballots were transported to Zambia in batches.
The verification exercise was planned to start at 09:00 hours but it was delayed for over three hours because of the demands.
Initially, the opposition Heritage Party elections agents who did not arrive at the venue on time initiated the delay.
But after all the agents gathered to get guidelines on the verification, some individuals burst out their concerns on the extra ballots, turning the entire scene in mayhem.
The elections agents refused to get explanations from ECZ principal elections officer Wina Mwanamonga who had referred all queries to deputy director, Brown Kasaro. Mr Kasaro, who rushed to the airport from the ECZ offices was at pains to make an assurance that the matter regarding the 600, 000 extra ballots would be extensively discussed between the leaders of the participating political parties during a meeting the following day.
“The matter on the extra ballots is an agenda item for tomorrow’s meeting,” Mr Kasaro said.
Earlier, Mwanamonga had a tough explaining to the elections agents who boycotted the verification programme and demanded that the queries on excess ballot papers be addressed before the exercise could start.
One of the major voices during the boycott was United Party for National Development (UPND) national trustee, Walusiku Nyambe who said the controversial ballot papers identified before any accompanying documents could be dispatched to the districts.
“There had never been a national election where the turnout had been 100 percent and therefore, there is no need to have 600,000 extra ballot papers,” she said.
And Patriotic Front (PF) member of central committee (MCC) Samuel Mukupa demanded that the extra ballot papers be separated from the others and destroyed in the presence of elections agents.
And Anti Rigging Zambia (ARZ) executive director, Kaluba Simuyemba who was among the stakeholders said his organisation was trailing all the ballot papers to ensure that there was no foul play.