Zambia: A look into the Preliminary Election Statements by the African Union and the Commonwealth

After the polls and when the first results of the elections is trickling in, the Election Observer Missions are publishing their preliminary statements. These are done with caution and enlightening certain aspects of how it was done and what they saw. The missions varies in sizes and scope, that is why what findings they have might be limited. Still, these EOMs are usually very friendly tools to legitimize elections and secure the international community that the election was credible. That’s why they are there.

Now on the 12th August election in Zambia. The African Union and the Commonwealth have both dropped Preliminary Statements today on the 14th August and it’s interesting to look into them both. Discuss and see what they claim what happened. The AU statement was 11 pages and the Commonwealth was 16 pages long. A lot is procedure and how they we’re introduced by the government. So, not always so much flesh or blood to dive into.

However, there is always some gems and codes, which states what we can await from their final reports. These statements usually tends to reflect on the final report and what they will say about the elections in question.

The AU noted: “Evidence of the heightened political situation in the country can be seen from the spate of violence, hate speech and misinformation reportedly carried out by political parties supporters, particularly those from the Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND), during the election campaigns. Concerns over the increased spate of violence prompted the deployment of the military for the first time during an electoral process” (AU, 14.08.2021).

While the Commonwealth noted: “A number of stakeholders we met expressed concerns about incidents of politically-motivated violence being perpetuated by cadres affiliated to the two major political parties, the PF and UPND. The incidents were isolated but they expressed the fear that they could become a generalised problem in the future. Some stakeholders questioned police impartiality, alleging bias in favour of governing party cadres” (Commonwealth, 14.08.2021).

The EOMs are both expressing what outsiders and insiders have told about. The clear indication of hate-speech towards the UPND and HH from the PF cadres. That has been very vicious and directed so loudly, that it has caused stir and headlines. While the violence has been used and sparked to give reason for the PF to claim the elections and tensions to contest the possible results. Still, it is nice that they both have seen what others has and speaks of it with concern.

The AU further states: “However, the Mission received reports from some stakeholders about inadequate consultation and provision of information by ECZ in the implementation of key electoral processes, which undermines public trust and confidence” (…) “While the Mission was informed that the previous voters’ register was outdated and contained an estimated 1.4 million deceased persons, concerns were raised over the accuracy and credibility of the new register. Stakeholders’ call for an independent audit of the new register to assess its comprehensiveness and accuracy were dismissed by the ECZ because there is no provision for this in the legal framework and that the register had already been exhibited and certified” (AU, 14.08.2021).

The Commonwealth stated: “However, several stakeholders including opposition political parties expressed concerns on the ability of the ECZ to conduct credible elections in an inclusive and transparent manner. Specifically, concerns were expressed about the registration process which was allegedly skewed in favour of the governing party” (Commonwealth, 14.08.2021).

Here we are seeing they are in accord and showing the same sentiment as well. That is really showing how things has gone and made it possible to question the elections integrity. But that is because, the reasons to question them is that the ruling party and the ones in-charge haven’t been accountable or transparent ahead of the polls. Not because the opposition has cheated, which will be the message of Lungu and PF.

The key statement from the AU like always: “Despite reports of the unlevelled playing field and politically motivated violence during the pre-electoral period, and Covid-19 related challenges, in general, AUEOM observers reported that Election Day operations were conducted in a peaceful, transparent and professional manner” (…) “The AUEOM commends the people of Zambia for their clear enthusiasm and determination to peacefully express their will through the ballot box. The Mission calls on all stakeholders to remain peaceful and calm while awaiting the announcement of final results by the Electoral Commission of Zambia. The Mission urges all political leaders and their supporters to not undertake any action that will undermine the peace and stability of the country” (14.08.2021).

The Commonwealth ends with: “It is our prayer that all political and electoral actors continue to act with diligence, transparency, inclusivity, and fairness as they handle the results processes and that the will of the Zambian people is preserved. Leaders should be magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat. We call upon the Coalition for Peaceful Elections in Zambia, the Electoral Commission of Zambia, civil society, the media, and all valued stakeholders to play their role in fulfilling the expectations of the people for credible and peaceful elections” (Commonwealth, 14.08.2021).

We are seeing again similar sentiment and that’s reassuring, as the African Union and Commonwealth. That shows that the President cannot say it was rigged and fixed, as he tried to do that with the unlevelled playing field. Which he created and still couldn’t challenge the opposition. That is why his saying it now and contesting it. While the Elections Observation Mission (EOMs) is stating what the ones who has followed has seen and stating it. However, that doesn’t say that it still isn’t credible or an honest result. Even when the opposition has met these challenges, it still was capable to overcome it. That says more about the UPND and HH than it says about Lungu and his PF.

This isn’t over, but the preliminary statements was a reflection worth taking notes of and it shows what went down. They we’re also showing restraint and diplomatic in their languages, but that is common courtesy. These missions are also tending to be there to make an “uneven” affair into a “free and fair” election. Therefore, often these are safari missions to legitimize rigged affairs.

However, here we are seeing a fella and a party who tried to rig himself in. Is losing and now trying to question it. Yes, the EOMs are saying there was certain aspects, which wasn’t fair, but ironically all of those was ordered and fixed by the man claiming the elections was unfair. That’s why you know the will of the people isn’t his, but they have decided for someone else. Peace.

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