Thursday, October 13, 2011
By Chibaula Silwamba
Thu 13 Oct. 2011, 14:00 CAT
RUPIAH Banda wanted to resist leaving power after his September 20 electoral defeat to Michael Sata, an influential London based investigative magazine has revealed.
In its October 7, 2011 edition, Africa Confidential, quoted Zambia's State House sources saying Banda was on the verge of declaring himself winner of the September 20 presidential poll after realising he had lost the elections to then opposition Patriotic Front (PF)'s Sata.
Africa Confidential reported that it was only the intervention of top advisors, electoral officials, founding president Dr Kenneth Kaunda, and United States and European Union diplomats on September 22 that persuaded Banda not to subvert the results and stay in office.
"The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), Justice Irene Mambilima, is reported to have threatened to resign and tell the world the truth if Banda did not accept defeat. US Ambassador Mark Storella warned Banda that if he did not respect the election results, he would only be able to maintain power by brute force," Africa Confidential reported.
"A despondent Banda, faced with advice and warnings from so many different quarters, gave in and shortly afterwards publicly conceded defeat."
Africa Confidential reported that delayed announcements of results and Sata's hints on polling day that the vote was being rigged encouraged suspicion and unrest over Banda's intentions and fuelled the protests in the Copperbelt towns of Kitwe and Ndola where two protestors died during large-scale rioting.
"One factor that gave the opposition confidence that rigging would be difficult was the deployment of some 9,000 observers to monitor polling stations across the country by a civil society organisation, the Civil Society Election Coalition. Using a method called parallel voter tabulation (PVT), monitors take a sample of voting intentions to project probable national results, much like ‘exit polls'," Africa Confidential reported. "The results are believed reliable enough to highlight anomalous voting patterns caused by ballot stuffing. The ECZ tried to stop PVT because it was afraid of inaccurate results being released. The ECZ was set up as an independent regulator but its powers remain limited because the necessary amendments to the Constitution have not been made."
Africa Confidential reported that Banda learned on September 21 that the vote was going against him and summoned the top directors of the Zambia Intelligence and Security Services to ask them to help reverse the result.
"The security men apparently told Banda they could not help because it was too late. Intelligence chiefs had for months complained that Banda no longer listened to their advice," Africa Confidential reported. "Junior intelligence officers, we hear, helped to prevent ballot-stuffing, having heard Sata, a former police officer, promise to improve their welfare. The conventional wisdom had been that Banda would swing the elections."
It reported that Zambia had seen unprecedented economic growth against the background of a booming mining sector and grateful businesspeople swelled the MMD's election war chest.
"After the vote on 20 September, it became clear that the key factor against Banda had been the 1.2 million newly-registered voters, some 90 per cent of whom are young, unemployed or impoverished students," Africa Confidential reported. "They are highly receptive to the charismatic Sata's offer of ‘salvation to the laboured'.
Voters also feared that a second Banda term would see a return to the blatant corruption of president Frederick Chiluba's time. Banda's open association with Chiluba harmed him."
Africa Confidential reported that Banda made the mistake of falling out with the Roman Catholic Church, which commands the faith of one-third of Zambians.
Africa Confidential reported that the Catholic Church believed that campaigns against it in the state-owned media were planned and coordinated by the government.
"Although this was Sata's third attempt at the presidency, his campaign message had not changed fundamentally: ‘More jobs, less taxes and more money in your pockets.' While the MMD attempted to dent PF support in its Copperbelt strongholds, it neglected to shore up its own areas of traditional support," Africa Confidential reported.
"The MMD is said to have borrowed large sums to finance its extravagant campaign, which was run by Banda's sons Henry and James, with the help of journalist Dickson Jere, Banda's Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations."
Africa Confidential reported that the Banda family was completely unprepared to lose the election.
"James Banda briefly ‘fled' to South Africa, fearing recriminations but soon returned. In the MMD, the pair are roundly blamed for the debacle," Africa Confidential reported.
Chief Justice Ernest Sakala declared Sata duly elected President on Friday September 23.
According to ECZ tabulation of results for the September 20 presidential elections, President Michael Sata obtained 1,170,966 votes (42.24 per cent), former president Rupiah Banda 987,866 votes (35.63 per cent), UPND's Hakainde Hichilema 506,763 votes (18.28 per cent), Charles Milupi 26,270 votes (0.95 per cent), Elias Chipimo Junior 10,672 votes (0.38 per cent), Tilyenji Kaunda 9,950 votes (0.36 per cent), Edith Nawakwi 6,833 votes, Ng'andu Magande 6,344 votes (0.23 per cent), Brig Gen Godfrey Miyanda 4,730 votes (0.17 per cent) and Fred Mutesa 2,268 votes (0.08 per cent). At least 2,772,264 people voted out of 5,167,154 registered voters. However, 39,602 votes were rejected.