Editor's Comment

Trust referendum vote

THE Electoral Commission of Zambia is justified in allaying fears by some stakeholders that the citizens who will vote for the adoption of the expanded Bill of Rights will be automatically voting for President Lungu.
There is need to trust the ECZ because it has been overseeing Zambia’s elections for over four decades.
And the general elections billed for August 11 will not be any different.
The only addition to the August 11 ballot, however, is that, whereas voters chose the President and members of Parliament, and councillors will be elected directly by the people, there will also be a separate stream for people who are not registered voters to vote in the referendum on the Bill of Rights.
The referendum is about the need to strengthen the Bill of Rights and ensure these rights become justifiable in a court of law.
Zambians must know that their failure to vote will leave the country with the same old Bill of Rights and a Constitution which can still be easily manipulated by Members of Parliament.
This is a lifetime opportunity for Zambians to re-write their history as far as the Bill of Rights is concerned.
The plea has, therefore, been for citizens to vote in the referendum despite ECZ seemingly not simplifying the referendum question.
If the problem is the question, we expect stakeholders to engage the ECZ and other organisations in simplifying the question.
We expect political players to be on top of the game as far as the referendum issue is concerned.
However, the issue has taken a new twist with political parties such as the Forum for Democracy and Development alleging that the referendum is a tool for electoral fraud by the ruling Patriotic Front.
Instead of viewing the vote for adoption of the expanded Bill of Rights in next month’s referendum, it has now been adjudged as automatic voting for President Lungu.
But ECZ public relations manager Crispin Akufuna has clarified that when you vote for a candidate at the presidential level or even at the parliamentary, mayoral council chairperson and even the councillor level, that is a separate vote from that of the referendum.
We, therefore, wonder why the referendum has suddenly become the main bone of contention in the August 11 elections.
This is despite an independent auditor having verified and cleared the voters’ roll.
While citizens have the right to question certain aspects of the electoral college, fears of vote rigging by political players is worrying.
We are worried because it has now become a trend in Zambia to question the legitimacy of the elections even when it is on firm record that our elections have always been credible, free and fair.
Because the country has always conducted elections in a transparent manner, hundreds of foreign observers from the African Union, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern African Development Community, the European Union and the United States are invited to oversee electoral proceedings.
Let us trust the ECZ to deliver a free, fair and credible election yet again.

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