Zambia : Banda closes in on Sata despite voter apathy

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The disinterest shown by many eligible voters in Thursda y’s presidential election in Zambia is of great concern, the state-run Zambia Daily Mail bemoaned on Saturday.

Zambians went to the polls on Thursday to elect a new president following the death of former president Levy Mwanawasa on 19 August. However, concerns have been expressed at voter apathy that characterised the election.

The paper noting that elections are among the most important aspects of a working democracy, wondered why many people who were attracted to campaign rallies chose to stay away from polling booths.

“It is all the more intriguing given the spectacle of mammoth crowds pictured at campaign rallies in different parts of the country. Were all those crowds misleading? Did people flock to rallies for entertainment value? Is it that the majority of rally-goers were not, in actual fact, voters,” the Mail stated in its editorial comment on Saturday.

The paper warned that apathy leads people on a path of self-disenfranchisement from the political process and is, therefore, a threat to popular democracy.

Also commenting on the elections, the independent Post newspaper expressed regret at threats made by the commander of the army, General Isaac Chisuzi and the Inspector General of Police Ephraim Mateyo to deal severely with people who will try and cause confusion after the election results have been announced.

“Even the most developed democracy such as the United States has had post-election disagreements. We have not forgotten what happened in the year 2000 when President George Bush was elected. There was serious and drawn-out disagreement on the results from Florida which was crucial to determining who had won the election, ” the newspaper said.

“The peacemaker is not one who issues threats but the humble person who recognises one’s errors and humiliations and knows how to apologise and how to recover and retrace one’s steps …. Threats will not help anyone, they are actually a recipe for anarchy, destruction and discord,” The Post stated in its editorial on Friday.

Counting of ballots in Thursday’s election has continued and according to the la test results released by the Electoral Commission of Zambia on Friday night, acting president Rupiah Banda is closing in on frontrunner Michael Sata.

Latest election results announced that Sata has 650,605 votes with Banda following with 615,241 votes. Results are being awaited in the remaining 22 constituencies.

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