THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has said its website carrying the 2011 presidential, parliamentary and local government election results had been tampered with and fake details posted on it to mislead the nation that Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata was leading the poll.
Briefing the media at the totalling centre in Lusaka yesterday, ECZ chairperson Ireen Mambilima also cautioned media houses against announcing unverified results because this was an offence and in breach of the Electoral Code of Conduct. She said the result component on the ECZ website has since been suspended pending further investigations on the matter.
Justice Mambilima said since the counting started yesterday in the morning, the commission only received results from 70 constituencies and that of these, only 33 were verified and announced to the nation while the remaining 37 were still being verified before announcement. She said media houses should desist from alarming the nation with inaccurate results and incidents relating to the elections.
Justice Mambilima said an article aired on a local radio station that former ECZ director Dan Kalale was beaten at Nakatindi Hall was one of the incidents that was fabricated. The website was widely quoted yesterday by the international media announcing that Mr Sata had taken a lead with over 700,000 votes and yet some of the results had not been received or counted at the time.
Ms Justice Mambilima said from the 33 constituencies so far tabulated Mr Sata received 265,843 votes representing 46.59 per cent while President Banda received 192,966 votes that represented 33.82 per cent. The results are mainly from the Copperbelt and Luapula provinces which are Mr Sata's strongholds.
United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema got 93,625 votes representing 16.41 per cent. She said the commission would continue to receive results through the authorised system and urged Zambians to remain calm.
Meanwhile, Justice Mambilima has appealed for calm from all stakeholders and members of the public as more results from the September 20 general elections continue to roll in at the result centre at Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
And the ECZ has said it has not come across pre-marked ballot papers saying all ballot papers in the election were from the commission and all had serial numbers with a complete audit trail. "The commission has heard of allegations of pre-marked ballot papers.
We have not come across any," she said. Speaking at a news briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Justice Mambilima said the ECZ had established that the posters that exemplify what the ballot paper would look like, were the ones being confused for actual ballot papers.
She said that ballot papers used in the general elections were verified by all participating political parties and other stakeholders at the airport before they were dispatched. She said the allegation that the there were pre-marked ballot papers did not hold water and the commission was further unhappy with the myth that there was a magic pen provided during voting whose ink faded after voting.
"The commission would further like to dismiss the myth of the so called magic pen provided by ECZ at polling stations whose ink purportedly fades after a voter has marked the ballot paper or the mark shifting from one candidate's slot to another," Justice Mambilima said. Further, she said that the major challenge that the commission faced was the delay in opening the polling centres resulting in some selected areas of the country experiencing traces of violence.
Justice Mambilima said that she regretted that delays in opening the polling centres and said that the reasons for the delays could only be explained by officers that were responsible for the polls.
She said that as far as the ECZ was concerned, it had ensured that all the logistics were in place to ensure that voting commenced on time but the officers responsible did not work according to the terms of reference.