Tuesday, March 15, 2011

There’s nothing sinister about PVT - Chongwe

There’s nothing sinister about PVT - Chongwe
By Patson Chilemba
Tue 15 Mar. 2011, 04:01 CAT

RUPIAH Banda and MMD are opposed to parallel vote tabulation (PVT) because they want to cheat their way to victory during this year's general elections, says Dr Rodger Chongwe. And Dr Chongwe said the civil society organisations and Zambians should ignore the tantrums from President Banda and the government by implementing the PVT.

In an interview yesterday, Dr Chongwe, a prominent Lusaka lawyer, said President Banda and his government should avoid unnecessary conflict over the PVT.

He said PVT was a phenomenon which was started in the Philippines and had been used in the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and in most countries in Africa.

“In fact, in the interview with The Post which was given by Mbita Chitala, he talked about a parallel vote tabulation installed right in State House during the 2008 elections, except his had this; he was in a position to withhold the announcement of 50,000 votes,” Dr Chongwe said. “So this was actually installed for purposes of cheating in an election.”

Dr Chongwe said there was nothing sinister or illegal about setting up a PVT once the official result at the polling station had been announced.

“And it's nonsensical to suggest that anybody who does that will commit an offence and will he hulled to court and prosecuted. There is no such law in the country, not even under the Electoral Act,” he said.

Dr Chongwe said what the civil society organisations wanted was to make PVT official. He said the issue had raised too much dust because it was viewed as a hindrance to plans by President Banda's government to rig the 2011 general elections.

Dr Chongwe said it was undebatable that the MMD had always rigged elections since 1996.

“In any case, as evidence of that, anybody who talks about making the electoral system more transparent is being accused of committing an offence. The PVT is a transparent method of counting the total results which have been officially announced,” Dr Chongwe said.

“If you are against that, it means you want to cheat. It is obvious. It is not only the President who has condemned PVT, his ministers have condemned it. Information minister Ronnie Shikapwasha was the first one.”

Dr Chongwe said Zambians should simply ignore President Banda and his government and go ahead to implement PVT, because there would be nothing illegal in their actions.

“It doesn't matter who the highest person is who is against it. Let's take it that, that is their opinion, but that opinion is not supported by the law of Zambia. If our law doesn't prohibit it, you do it,” he said.

Organisers from the Philippine National Citizen Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) are widely recognised as the pioneers of PVT in emerging democracies.

In Zambia, the ECZ pastes results at public notice boards at every polling station where people are free to collect the same and add up with results from other centres to come up with the result.

On the MMD cadres who are systematically taking over the running of communal institutions like markets and bus stations in Lusaka following the suspension of the Lusaka City Council (LCC) by the government, Dr Chongwe described the actions by MMD cadres as lawlessness of the highest order.

He said the problem was because institutions like the police service had failed the Zambian people miserably. Dr Chongwe said the suspension of LCC was politically motivated.

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