The Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) is monitoring the voting process currently underway in 96 constituencies across Zambia. We are pleased to observe the following issues regarding the Election Day.
General Observations on Elections
- The elections have so far been peaceful punctuated by encouraging numbers of voters in over 80 polling stations observed;
- Delivery of electoral materials has generally been satisfactorily done in most polling stations observed;
- ECZ appears to have so far generally administered elections in a satisfactory manner; and
- We were encouraged by the generally professional manner in which Zambia Police Service manned polling stations across the Country.
However, FODEP observed the following specific incidents with concern:
- Security Concerns
In Mongu Central Parliamentary Constituency, it was observed that voters overwhelmed police and forced their way into the polling station forcing the voting process to be temporary halted;
- Conduct of Electoral staff
In Katuba Parliamentary Constituency, particularly at Kayosha Polling Station, a named ECZ official confiscated notebooks from political party agents and monitors claiming that they were not allowed to take notes. This action was in contravention of the roles of the monitor as stipulated in the Electoral Process Act No 35 of 2016. The official’s motives for doing so remain unknown.
- In Kabwata Parliamentary Constituency, the polling station at Chilenje Middle Basic Schoo, in Chilenje South was transferred without proper communication to voters; this left scores of voters waiting at the original location before they knew it was transferred discouraging many from exercising their democratic right to vote; and
- At Ngwelele Primary School in Lusaka, issues with the rubber stamps forced polling staff to use their signatures at the back of the ballots before voting.
- Secrecy of the Vote
We observed with trepidation the act of recording of the voters’ card number by the polling staff on the top left of the counter foil of the ballot paper at School of Continuing Education, in Mukuyu Polling district in Ndola Central Constituency. We are of the view that this action renders the secrecy of the ballot in serious question and an actual assault on constitutional right of the voters to freely choose their leaders by a secret ballot as espoused in Article 46 of the amended constitution. Other unverified reports of the same nature were observed in other polling station.
- Referendum Vote
From the polling stations observed, it was clear that the queue for those voting on the referendum question was short in most cases. This is not a good sign as it indicates that many people that are eligible to vote did not vote on the referendum question.
- Vote Buying
Our monitors reported that in Mambilima Parliamentary Constituency, suspected PF supporters were allegedly paying and ferrying people to go and cast their vote. This was happening in and around Wamuchinga village. This made more voters to stay away from voting as they were waiting to be ferried and paid, a clear contravention of the code of conduct.
We call on all stakeholders to maintain peace and respect for the democratic process as we move into the counting of the vote.