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The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) refutes allegations of missing ballot papers


The scheduled dates for distribution of ballot boxes by the ECZ could not have facilitated the availability of ballot boxes at Lusaka’s Civic Centre on the 6th of August as they were scheduled to be there on the 9th

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Verified Aug, 10 2021


On 6th August 2021, the Zambian Observer quoted United Party for National Development (UPND) Presidential Spokesperson, Anthony Bwalya, demanding that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) must explain missing ballot papers at Civic Center in Lusaka. The report was based on a post on Mr Bwalya’s Facebook page, where he was quoted stating that it is unacceptable that a few days to Zambia’s election, there are already signs of electoral malpractice even before the first vote has been cast. Mr Bwalya added that it was disturbing to note that reports had already emerged of missing ballot papers, where some ballot boxes delivered to the Civic Center in Lusaka were empty, while others had a number of ballot papers visibly removed. He further claimed that the incident being portrayed in the video was an act of deliberate, premeditated sabotage against democracy.

Rating Justification

The fact checking process has established as false the claim made by Mr Anthony Bwalya that some ballot papers were missing at the Civic Centre in Lusaka. The iVerify fact checking considered concerns by several members of the public regarding missing ballot papers in Lusaka which has the potential to lead to voter apathy. The iVerify team studied the video being referred to by Mr Bwalya and made the observation that the video indeed shows some ballot boxes ripped around the areas fastened with a strapping tape, however it does not clearly show any ballot papers or the content therein and therefore cannot conclude that any ballot papers were missing from the spoilt boxes based on the particular video. Further verification showed that the Electoral Commission of Zambia has scheduled dates of distribution of ballot boxes which could not have facilitated the availability of the ballot boxes at Lusaka’s Civic Centre on the 6th of August as they are scheduled to be at Lusaka’s Civic Centre on the 9th of August. In fact, in a statement shared on their official facebook page, the ECZ through the District Electoral Officer Mr. Alex Mwansa confirmed that ballot papers are yet to be distributed in Lusaka, adding that according to the Electoral Commission of Zambia timetable, the distribution of ballot papers in Lusaka will take place on the 9th August 2021. Mr. Mwansa invited all stake holders to witness the distribution process of the ballot papers; calling on members of the public to desist from spreading falsehoods but rather seek clarity when they encounter information they deem suspicious. Furthermore, iVerify came across a statement by The Lusaka City Council through their Public Relations Manager Mwaka Nakweti on the 6th of August, in which it is statedthat the Council would like to distance itself from a video that is circulating on social media purporting that ballot boxes have gone missing from the Civic Center. Instead, if we are to place the video that is circulating on social media of missing ballot papers at Lusaka’s Civic Centre, in accordance with the ECZ timetable, the ballot boxes would have been in Chipata (Petauke) on the 5th of August,2021 in conformity with the date that thevideo was first circulated. iVerify corroborated the video to another video from Petauke district in which Emanuel JJ Banda, aspiring Member of Parliament for Petauke Central confirms receiving ballot papers as a district for Petauke central and Kaombwe constituency. Other invited stakeholders as well as the district electoral office (DEO) are seen to be present as well. In the video it is stated that in the process of offloading the ballot boxes, the officials present noted that some boxes were damaged and it brought about misunderstandings. However, the DEO calmed the situation by calling for a verification which indeed confirmed thatall ballot boxes had all ballot booklets as indicated Combining the statements by ECZ and the Lusaka City Council as well as a thorough reading of the two videos that serve as evidence of what really transpired, the iVerify team has determined as false the claim by Mr. Bwalya.

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