Zambia’s main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema has taken a commanding lead in the country’s presidential election with 47,706 votes while incumbent President Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF) has won 41,572.
A tense calm has largely prevailed across the country after the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) said it would not release any more results until 11am on Sunday morning, because it lacks the capacity to complete the work within 48 hours as stipulated in the Zambian constitution.
The latest batch of results released from the national totalling centre at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka at 2am on Saturday came from eight out of the 156 constituencies nationwide. These were Feira, Chavuma, Mwansabombwe, Masaiti, Vubwi, Mambilima, Ikelengi, and Mulobezi.
United National Independence Party (UNIP) presidential candidate Tilyenji Kaunda came a distant third, polling 518 votes.
The ECZ has confirmed that one of its own officials is being interrogated for aiding a man who was arrested on suspicions of tampering with election results inside the vote counting centre.
ECZ chairman Justice Esau Chulu said the ECZ official, identified only as Kasaro, was suspected of having aided Samuel Chavuma to gain access to the commission’s information technology centre. Chavuma is believed to be a member of Lungu’s PF party.
ECZ director Priscilla Isaac said they were not sure whether Chavuma, who is in police custody, had gained access to the network passwords.
The IT centre’s password systems were secure and could only be accessed with internal help.
“On the issue of him logging into our system, I do not believe that has happened because if there was an issue of the disclosure of the password it would come from someone internally. With respect to the access to the IT section by this individual, we are yet to get a report from the police.
“I am told he is in custody and indeed we need to ensure that our ICT section is secure. I have raised some of these concerns with our staff where I felt we needed to take more care in terms of security. So I hope our staff and security will keep this in their minds,” she said.
However, she said the security lapse could have been due to the fact that for the first time in Zambia’s electoral history, the ECZ allowed a large number of political party agents, monitors, and observers on a guided tour of the results accreditation room.
She said the decision was an ECZ initiative aimed at promoting transparency in the vote counting process. The commission said it would decide the fate of the employee suspected of colluding with the man suspected of tampering with the results after a hearing with him.
Africa News Agency