A serious loophole in the electoral process has been unearthed in which the ruling PF has massively capitalised for rigging through the on-going continuous voter registration exercise at Show Grounds in Lusaka.
Senior PF government officials and months of Watchdog investigations has revealed that with the law allowing anyone to register, update, or replace voters cards, the ruling PF has been shifting their paid loyal members from one ward or constituency to wherever a bye-election will be held and beef-up numbers.
Sources close to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) also detected and confirmed a serious trend where many people showed interest to update their voter’s credentials from one polling station to places where bye-elections will be held as this is allowed.
This rigging formula was massively used during the last bye-elections in Mufumbwe and various wards across the country that saw PF ferry a lot of their members mainly from Lusaka and Copperbelt to go and vote in other places, particularly in Mufumbwe constituency and the wards in the country.
As a counter measure, ECZ yesterday put up an advert in state owned Zambia Daily Mail page 3 announcing suspension of continuous voters registration exercise in places where elections will be taking place.
But even then, this measure will, from now, only apply when a date for a bye election has been announced in a particular area, meaning anyone is still legally allowed to shift their voting point from say Mandevu constituency in Lusaka to Livingstone constituency and be eligible to vote in the forth coming bye-election.
Watchdog investigations have also revealed that even with this ECZ measure, the ruling party still has an upper hand because being the people controlling the system, they will always know where a bye-election will soon be taking place and beef-up their numbers.
Sources gave an a example of a situation where a member of parliament or councillor can be bribed and told to keep quiet until there are enough numbers in the area before he announces resignation as was the case with Livingstone’s Howard Sikwela.
If the opposition political parties have one or two intelligent people in their ranks, we challenge them to compare and scrutinise the voters registers that were used in September 2011 elections and the ones being used now in detail.
Some of the opposition political members spoken to expressed total ignorance as they thought the changes in the voters registers through the on-going continuous voters registration exercise at Lusaka Show grounds will only be effected in 2016 general elections.
But as the ECZ advert confirms, the continuous updates are with immediate effect and someone is legally eligible to change as many times as possible and qualify to vote anywhere.
The opposition parties spoken to confessed that even if they were to participate in this dirty electoral scheme, they cannot match the financial and logistical muscle enjoyed by the ruling party to run such an operation.
In the last bye-elections, the ruling PF scooped Mufumbwe constituency and 12 out of the 14 ward by-elections in what president Michael Sata boasted that his party had continued gaining popularity as the only party with a national character and appeal.
“Indeed, the PF has gained incredible ground in North-Western, Western, Eastern and Central provinces. The recent victories in Chavuma, Luena, Petauke, Muchinga, Rufunsa, Chibombo and many others; are a clear testimony of this rapid progression,” President Sata said.
The ruling party has also taken advantage of the usual voter apathy that characterize bye-elections to use this dirty scheme combined with bribery.