My expectation/prediction for the Zambian 2011 elections is that Rupiah Bwezani Banda will comfortably defeat Michael Chilufya Sata by about 5 percentage points, but the ruling MMD will lose anything from 5 to 10 Parliamentary seats. I am concerned that the opposition keeps trying to convince the public that the elections will be “rigged” so that they have an excuse to start civil unrest. You see this from the noise they keep making about the alledged corruption of UPG (the printing company for the ballot papers), but they happily send their representatives to South Africa to witness the printing which is captured on CCTV.
Why have they agreed to take part in the elections if they believe they will be rigged? How is this even possible? While it is inevitable there will be some irregularities and MMD has taken full advantage of State Machinery whenever they can, this is a separate issue from rigging which mainly involves tampering with ballot papers. Anyone familiar with the process of voting – the Voter’s Roll, presentation of Voter’s Card with NRC, transparent ballot boxes with unique serial numbers, vote counting, results publication outside polling station, transmission and tabulation of verified results, etc – would know it is IMPOSSIBLE to tamper with ballot papers during an election (unless you believe in Voodoo or Black Magic). The opposition claims that MMD rigs in rural areas because of lack of monitors which is disingenuous.
1. I do not expect election monitors, or even the opposition to be so stupid as not to send anyone to monitor elections in rural areas where they know MMD is most likely to rig.
2. If you are running for MP and you fail to ensure you have enough people representing you at all polling stations, then it is your fault if you lose due to “underhand” methods by the ruling party.
3. Independent International Election monitors take random samples of voting patterns from various polling stations and for them to certify that the elections are free and fair (which they have been doing since 1991), they are satisfied that the sample they took was sufficiently representative.
4. If there is any widespread rigging that is likely to change the outcome of the election, it will show up in the random sampling and would be fairly easy to prove.
5. Why has there never been a single case of any former Electoral Commission of Zambia employee who has confessed to witnessing rigging and explained in detail how it was done?
6. Several high profile former MMD members have defected to the opposition since 2000. Why haven’t they provided intelligence to the opposition to prevent rigging, which they always claim when they lose an election?
7. The opposition has won several parliamentary seats during “rigged” elections. They claim “the people have spoken” when they win. If they are really that popular, any attempt by MMD to rig would fail.
8. All claims of electoral irregularities so far, including the ones presented in the election petition by the late Anderson Kambela Mazoka when he lost to Levy Patrick Mwanawasa in 2001, amount to such a tiny percentage of the total votes cast that they have no bearing on the results.
9. The ruling party disadvantaging the opposition (eg through biased media) is not the same thing as rigging. In any case, The Post, Radio Phoenix, Muvi TV and others have given them adequate coverage.
I have no sympathy for the opposition over this issue considering how dishonest they are. They have lost in the past, fair and square, and fully deserve to lose again this year. A wise voter is one that is not swayed by political demagogues.
An Analysis of the Patriotic Front (PF) Manifesto By James Julu (published in 2006)