By OLIVER SAMBOKO
CONTROVERSY continues to surround the Parallel Voter Tabulation (PVT) project scheduled for the August 12 elections which sparked protest among OCiDA members following reports that it has been hijacked by a partisan UPND team assembled by Lusaka businessman Diego Casilli.
Contacted yesterday, Mr Casilli insisted that the PVT was not hijacked.
Mr Casilli confirmed that he was involved in the PVT project but explained that “we proposed the PVT concept to OCiDA. Due to limitations of funding, OCiDA took the decision to withdraw from the collaboration”
However, Lusaka lawyer, Tutwa Ngulube wondered in what capacity Mr Casilli was working to spearhead the PVT project as among other things he was a diplomat and therefore not supposed to meddle in internal affairs of the country.
Apart from being Honorary Consul – General for Belgium, in Zambia, Mr Casilli was reportedly aligned to UPND President Hakainde Hichilema in business and politics.
Mr Ngulube said diplomats were prohibited from meddling in politics of the host country.
He said a PVT was part of politics hence diplomats were expected to stay away from such an activity.
Earlier, founding members of OCiDA were disturbed by reports that the project had been handed over to Mr Casilli.
“We would like to know if it is true that Mr. Casilli has recruited Lusaka lawyer John Sangwa and Kelvin Bwalya Fube among many others who are known for their views against President Edgar Lungu, because if it is true then the neutrality and outcome of the project will be seriously undermined,” one of the founding members of OCiDA said.
The founding OCiDA members are concerned that, if true, the project would be perceived as an opposition tool to discredit the legitimacy of the election outcome, in the event that the UPND lost.
The new system, they complained, would divert from the initial OCiDA PVT.
They complained that OCiDA, which was established to contribute to good governance and sound management of the economy, should exhibit the highest level of transparency.
“That is why we would like to know if it is true that Mr. Cassili will be financing this exercise using individuals known for their views.”
OCiDA had embarked on setting up and deploying a PVT tool across the country ahead of the elections.
The project would have meant deploying independent and voluntary PVT agents across all the 12, 152 polling stations who would report their key findings through encrypted messages to a central data collection station.
In turn, OCiDA would evaluate the quality and voting processes and confirm whether or not official results being announced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) reflected the votes cast at the polling stations.
The organisation would then post the results of the PVT on Facebook and Twitter for electorates to follow the counting process.