ROAN AND BAHATI PARLIAMENTARY BY-ELECTIONS STATEMENT
12 April 2019
1.0. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
As part of its ongoing mission to support democratic development and promote free, fair and credible electoral processes in Zambia, the Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) consortium undertook a non-partisan monitoring of the April 2019 parliamentary by-elections in Bahati and Roan constituencies. CCMG’s observation of the parliamentary by-elections included pre-election observation and Election Day monitoring in Roan constituency. CCMG’s mission is to strengthen electoral processes and encourage citizen participation in democratic governance in Zambia. Through civic and voter education, non-partisan election monitoring, electoral reform advocacy and capacity building of civil society organizations, CCMG promotes democratic development and good governance.
CCMG created the Electoral Process Monitoring Project partnership to effectively monitor the 2015 presidential election, 2016 general elections and now the 2019 parliamentary by-elections. CCMG partner organizations include: the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) and Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) through Caritas Zambia.
On April 11 CCMG deployed 26 trained, ECZ-accredited stationary observers to polling stations in the Roan constituency, in addition to three mobile monitors in Roan and three mobile monitors in Bahati. Stationary observers were present at 25 of 43 polling stations (randomly selected) and covered all 14 wards in Roan. There were no stationary observers in Bahati. Election observers arrived in Roan at their assigned polling station and polling stream at 05:30 hours and remained there throughout voting and counting until the official results for the parliamentary by-election for the entire polling station were publicly announced and posted.
The CCMG election observers utilized a customized Election Day checklist designed to fully capture and evaluate the election process and results. Throughout Election Day the observers sent in a total of five monitoring reports on the conduct of the election via coded text messages using their mobile phones. On April 11, 100% of CCMG’s election observers successfully delivered their monitoring reports. This data was captured and analyzed at the CCMG Date Centre in Lusaka. As part of the electoral observation process, observers also reported any critical incidents in the field as they occurred to their mobile monitors and the CCMG Data Centre.
3. SELECT FINDINGS (ROAN CONSTITUENCY)
Polling Station Set-up:
100% of polling streams (monitored) opened on time (06h00-06h30).
100% of ballot boxes in polling streams (monitored) were sealed.
100% of ballot boxes in polling streams (monitored) were empty.
The average number of polling officials per polling stream (monitored) was five.
46% of polling officials per polling stream (monitored) were women.
At 100% of polling streams (monitored) election officials stamped every ballot paper with the official mark/stamp.
At 100% of polling streams (monitored) no one was permitted to vote without having a Voter
At 96% of polling streams (monitored) voters’ fingers were marked with indelible ink after voting.
At 65% of polling streams (monitored) UPPZ had a party agent present at the polling stream. At 100% of polling streams (monitored) PF had a party agent present at the polling stream.
At 100% of polling streams (monitored) NDC had a party agent present at the polling stream. At 81% of polling streams (monitored) PAC had a party agent present at the polling stream.
Closing and Counting:
At 100% of polling streams (monitored) all polling agents present were permitted to observe the counting of parliamentary ballot papers.
At 92% of polling streams (monitored) there were no unauthorized persons present during the counting of the parliamentary ballot papers.
At 96% of polling streams (monitored) there were no complaints by party agents.
No one intimidated or harassed election officials during the counting of ballot papers at streams
At 100% of polling streams (monitored) official results were recorded on the official results form.
At 100% or polling stations (monitored) party agents signed the official results form.
At 100% of polling stations (monitored) the official results for the parliamentary by-elections were publicly posted.
CCMG received a total of seven critical incident reports from Roan and Bahati, of which six were confirmed, by its accredited election observers. The most serious was an incident in Roan that involved the beating of a group of party supporters en route to polling stations by their opponents resulting in serious injury and two supporters treated in hospital. Another female voter in the same area was attacked by a group of political cadres and injured. CCMG condemns in the strongest terms all electoral violence and calls upon the political parties to honor their nonviolence pledge and for the police to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for these terrible acts.
The other critical incidents received on Election Day by CCMG were: campaigning by political party candidates and officials at polling stations; hand-outs/vote buying by political parties, a party agent accusing an ECZ official (who was subsequently rotated to a different polling station) of voter tampering; and harassment or violence against political party supporters. However, these appear to be isolated incidents and did not occur in large numbers.
CCMG also noted that one of its accredited observers had difficultly gaining access to a polling station and polling stream. The decentralization of the accreditation process led this particular polling station supervisor to misunderstand observer accreditation requirements – this was an isolated occurrence and resolved.
Based on the findings of the CCMG’s Parliamentary By-Election Observation, Zambians can have confidence that voting and counting processes proceeded with only small issues at the overwhelming majority of polling stations and polling streams monitored. However, CCMG notes that there some were critical issues with the general electoral environment.
Importantly, PF had party agents at 100% of the polling stations (monitored) during counting and 100% of PF party agents signed the official results form. Similarly, at 100% of polling stations (monitored) an NDC party agent was present during counting and 100% of NDC party agents signed the official results form. Furthermore, at 100% of polling stations (monitored) all political party agents present signed the official results form and at 100% of polling stations (monitored) the official results were posted for the public to see. This clearly demonstrates it was a credible processe for voting at polling stations and polling streams in Roan.
CCMG calls on the winners to be magnanimous in victory. Voters will go to the polls again in
2021 and candidates and political parties should set a positive example of calm, civility and cooperation going forward.
Despite the credibility of the Election Day processes, CCMG continues to be concerned about low turnout. More analysis is needed to understand why voters are not participating and how to increase voter turnout. Furthermore, we need to ensure that in 2021:
• Political leaders maintain their pledge and commitment to nonviolence;
• Political parties condemn voter handouts and vote buying and these negative practices are eliminated; and
• Political parties and citizens should allow the ECZ to carry out their duties with professionalism and without intimidation or harassment;
• The ECZ, civil society organizations (CSOs), and faith-based organisations expand voter outreach and education and continue to target women, youth and people with disabilities.
In closing, the CCMG Steering Committee congratulates Zambians on successful by-elections in Roan and Bahati, and appeals to everyone, especially all candidates and their supporters, to act responsibly and in the interest of the nation. Once again Zambia was able to set a constructive example of democracy in action in Africa.
The CCMG Steering Committee would like to thank the volunteers from our four organisations that deployed in Roan and Bahati as Election Day observers and mobile monitors. Your efforts have helped strengthen our democracy. CCMG also greatly appreciates the efforts of the election officials to ensure Zambians had a well-organized and executed election process. Finally, CCMG commends all Zambians who went to the polls yesterday to exercise their right to vote.
GOD BLESS ZAMBIA!
Fr. Cleophas Lungu, ZCCB
CCMG – Steering Committee Chair
Fr. Emmanuel Chikoya, CCZ
CCMG – Steering Committee Member
The original signed statement found here http://caritaszambia.org/phocadownload/general/CCMG-April-2019-Roan-Bahati-Pre-Election-Statement-10th-April-2019.pdf