Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development of Zambia, who was defeated in last Tuesday’s presidential by-election, has refused to concede victory to Edgar Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front party.
Though Hichilema has appealed to his supporters to remain calm after their painful loss, he insists that “votes were stolen from me”.
He said at a Press briefing in Lusaka Monday that the results “did not reflect the will of the Zambian people”.
Hichilema said the momentum for UPND would continue to grow regardless of the outcome of the polls because the opposition party had been preparing for the 2016 general elections.
“Before then though, we firmly believe that the 2016 elections should be held on the platform of a new Constitution and Independent Electoral Commission to prevent a repeat of the shambles we have seen over the last few days,” he advocated.
Hichilema noted that there were many aspects of the election process and results that “were highly irregular and fell short of the democratic process Zambians aspired for”.
The UPND leader claimed that there were some known individuals within the ECZ who have “acted with utter impunity, corruption and total disregard for a democratic process” by manipulating the election results.
He alleged that the Commission had failed to allow the members of the UPND to verify results in all the 150 constituencies despite agreeing to do so following the discrepancies.
But Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson, Irene Mambilima has refuted the candidate’s claims, insisting that said if Hichilema “alleges that the ECZ had manipulated the results, then the act was committed together with the UPND”.
Ms Justice Mambilima said that the Commission had been transparent enough to engage political parties and all stakeholders from the printing of ballot papers to the counting of votes.
“He is entitled to his opinion; we ensured transparency at every level; even at the printing of ballot papers we were accompanied by political party representatives and other stakeholders. They witnessed the receipt, dispatch of the ballot papers to the polling stations.
“During the whole process they had agents in totalling centres and most of them signed the results, so if the results were manipulated we did it together,” Ms Justice Mambilima declared.
She said that the solution in addressing such concerns lay in having a new Constitution in place.
Ms Justice Mambilima said most of the challenges faced by the Commission were beyond human intervention like the bad whether which Government has no control of.
Meanwhile, Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) candidate Edith Nawakwi, who placed third in the election, condemned politicians that were busy attacking the Commission.