LESSONS TO BE LEARNT FROM THE CURRENT ELECTORAL PROCESS

By Sam Phiri
Herewith a few lessons from the ongoing electoral process
LESSON ONE: in the new constitution, the independence and professionalism of the ECZ should be guaranteed and not only assured.

LESSON TWO: Govt & parliament should be compelled, BY LAW, to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to the ECZ for:
(a) The continuous voter registration; 
(b) Training of the STAFF & expertise at ECZ and ALL associates; 
(c) Funds must be made available by Govt to legitimise, domesticate & legalise PVT so as to circumvent suspicions and to promote transparency in the electoral process.
LESSON THREE: The role of an effective communication system & structures within the ECZ should never be underplayed, under-resourced and silo-rised within the ECZ. The ECZ deals with political power, whose essence is so sensitive and delicate that ECZ needs to expand, extend, capitalise and capacitate this most important area of their operations. In dynamic situations, PERCEPTIONS are sometimes more important than reality [refer to the nail-polish, electronic results reporting and truck-seizures scandals, for instance. These should never have occurred]
For institutions like the ECZ, communication should NEVER be a by-the-way preserve of two, or three, people in a section of the ECZ office. You (ECZ) are playing with fire! All staff should be committed to promoting a positive BRAND of CREDIBILITY for the ECZ – but the above initial steps need to be taken immediately by all concerned (Govt, parliament, Board and staff of the ECZ).
LESSON FOUR: In the absence of a credible PVT system, that is domesticated and legitimised through a constitutional provision and suitable funding, foreign election observers will never be good, or credible, sources for the legitimisation of important elections outcomes. They are not grounded institutions. Zambia needs to build its own institution, starting with the ECZ.
[By the way, I was trained as an election observer in 1991 under the USA’s NDI and the Carter Centre]