Letters

There is nothing like pre-marked ballots in zambia

Dear Editor,
THE tale or myths about pre-marked ballots have been with us for a while – not only in Zambia – but worldwide. From my little experience with election reporting (journalist) and observer/monitor, since 1996, I can attest to the fact that no one has ever con-vinced me of this tale.
Here is the thing;
Each ballot paper has a distinct serial number. A voter’s name is called in the presence of the agents of each candidate or political party, who also crosses the name of their voter registers. The name of the voter corresponds with the picture and NRC number.
At the end of the polling, all the ballots are counted to ascertain the total number of votes cast before separating them with actual votes for each candidate. The remaining ballots can be scrutinised even afterwards through verification.
So at what point do the pre-marked ballots find themselves in the ballot boxes? Mind you, all the agents are required to sign off the votes counted – unless of course you do not have credible agents who understand the process.
In 2011, I went to monitor the elections in DRC. Reports of pre-marked ballots were raised by the opposition but unverified and no one provided any evidence.
What we saw, however, was the manipulation of elections by shifting polling stations in opposition strongholds to defranchise the opposi-tion. For example, if you vote in Matero, your name is then sent to Kabwata.
When you arrive in Kabwata, you’re advised that your name is in Kanyama and so on and so forth. This kind of displacement had high numbers – which effectively knocked out hundreds of voters.
Coming to the allegations of pre-marked ballots. I really want to meet someone who can demonstrate it to me and show how this works. This brings me to Dan Kalale – former Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Director.
When opposition leader then, Michael Sata, accused him of vote rigging and stuffing pre-marked ballots in 2006, he challenged him to demonstrate how it was done. He went further and asked Sata to reveal how the pre-marked ballot scheme is done because he was once Na-tional Secretary of MMD and therefore should have known how it is done – if it ever existed! Off course it ended there.
No single candidate has ever produced evidence in court of pre-marked ballots. All the cases have been hinging on violence, intimidation, vote-buying, media bias, police brutality, public order act, charcter assassination etc. These are the known electoral malpractice that exist in our jurisdiction! Never pre-marked ballots!
Just make sure you train your agents well like PF (in opposition) did in 2011 with the Anti-Rigging Zambia Limited. Pay your agents well and provide them with adequate food and support system so that they do not leave the polling stations!
There is no pre-marked ballots in Zambia! That is why no such evidence has ever been produced in court even by former senior members of the ruling party who crossed to the opposition!
DICKSON JERE.

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