Techno savvy in Zambia’s election campaign

16 September, 2011, Danstan Kaunda

President Rupiah Banda’s re-election campaign has an ‘odd’ element- using Global System for Mobile (GSM) service provider by sending both text and voice calls campaign messages for his political party to the phone subscribers.

The messages are a repeat of what the 74 year-old leader and his backers have been saying about in their campaign messages and how Zambian people should vote in the elections slated for today, the 20th September.

One of the messages read: “Vote for RB (Rupiah Banda) for improved Education, Agriculture and Social services .”

But Zambia’s giant GSM service provides, Airtel-Zambia refute allegations by general the public of generating such text messages and two minutes recorded voice calls campaign memo for any political parties in the country.

According to Information Technology Communication (ICT) agency, the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Council-ZICTA say unsolicitated text messages and voice calls by some political parties are coming from international circuits and not from the three mobile phone operators in Zambia.

ZICTA Head of Public Relations Ngabo Nankonde says the voice call recording is machine generated from cross international circuit.

“The messages are originating from a masked number which is not allocated or being used by any of the three mobile operators,” Nankonde said

She says none of the mobile phone providers in the country has given access to their subscriber call records to any of the political parties.

A concerned Airtel-Zambia subscriber, Christabel Mutale, expressed anguish for repeatedly receiving such campaign messages even after midnight from the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).

“Am not pleased with the current service being provided by Airtel-Zambia, they are unprofessional,” Mutale pointed out.

“They should respect people’s rights,” Mutale adds.

ZICTA has recently received complaints from members of the public that they are receiving unsolicited calls and text messages from some political parties.

ICT analyses are saying ZICTA should know better where such messages are coming from and that Airtel stands to lose the market share of subscribers of the Zambian market.

And a Lusaka resident Phiri Kondwani said ZICTA is not telling the truth by stating that the campaign text messages are not generated from within the country.

Kondwani said “Let all Airtel customers stop using their service when Airtel lose business then, they will have to explain to their customers how MMD is getting access to their numbers.”

Zambia has three mobile phone operators-Airtel, MTN and the partly state-own Cell-Z.

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