THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says the introduction of the new voters’ register is a result of recommendations made by political parties, international observers and auditors in 2016.
And the Commission says the pre-online registration is not a requirement, but only an option for those who wish to quicken their registration process.
In an interview, ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano said the introduction of the new voters’ register was as a result of recommendations made by political parties, international observers and auditors back in 2016, which the Commission were now implementing.
He explained that the parameters on the ground had changed due to the delimitation of polling stations, polling districts, wards and constituencies, rendering the current electoral boundaries under the current register null and void.
“The new voters’ register is a result of recommendations made by political parties, international observers as well as the auditors of the register in 2016. All reports are available and were shared with political parties at the time. It must be noted that political parties expressed concerns with the 2016 voter roll, alleging that there deceased persons and foreigners appearing on the register. In that regard, political parties and international observers, as well as auditors, recommended that a new voter registration be undertaken, noting that the lifespan of a voters’ roll should be not more than 10 years,” Nshindano said.
“Further to this, the parameters on the ground have changed due to the delimitation of polling stations, polling districts, wards and constituencies rendering the current electoral boundaries under the current register null and void and hence, all the details of registered voters have to be aligned to the new electoral boundaries, failure to which, one will be disenfranchised on polling day as the details on the voter’s card will not tally and their registered polling station might not even exist.”
And Nshindano said the online pre-registration exercise was aimed at expediting the process of voter registration.
“It must be noted that the online exercise is merely pre-registration, aimed at quickening the process of voter registration. Voters will still be required to manually register as has always been the practice. It must also be noted that pre-registration is not a requirement, but only an option for those who wish to quicken their registration process. All those who wish to register manually and not partake in pre-registration are free to do so. Online registration is most cost effective, faster, easier, and more accessible to the younger voters, who ECZ is aiming at franchising. ECZ notes the high voter apathy among the youth in previous elections. Easier and quicker registration is aimed at combating this,” he explained.
Nshindano, however, said the Commission would endeavour to build consensus among all stakeholders regarding the upcoming 2021 general election.
“ECZ remains committed to fulfilling its mandate as enshrined in the Constitution by delivering free and credible elections. However, it must be noted that ECZ will endeavour to build consensus among stakeholders regarding upcoming elections, particularly with regard to new voter roll and online pre-registration,” said Nshindano.