CHAPTER One Foundation Limited has petitioned the Constitutional Court, seeking an order mandating the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to carry out continuous voter registration between elections.
It has argued that ECZ has violated the Constitution by deciding to conduct voter registration for the 2021 elections over a period of 30 days only.
Chapter One Foundation which has cited ECZ and the Attorney General as respondents in the matter, further wants the court to make an order mandating the Attorney General to implement the mobile issuance of National Registration cards throughout the country.
In its petition filed in the Constitutional Court, the non-governmental organisation argued that government had breached the Constitution by implementing the issuance of National Registry Cards (NRC) in a manner that contravenes the Constitution.
It relied on Article 128 (1)(b) of the Constitution of Zambia and alleged that the actions taken by government and ECZ were a violation of the Constitution and thus the court had jurisdiction to determine the petition.
Chapter One further relied on Article 128 (3)(b) of the Constitution and alleged that the decision made in the exercise of the legislative mandate to register citizens and register voters was unconstitutional and violates the Constitution.
It stated that the actions, decisions and measures taken by the respondents do not show an application of the national values and principles.
“In conducting the national registration exercise, ECZ ought to implement such policy uniformly to ensure national unity. ECZ ought to further implement policy in a manner that fosters democracy and constitutionalism which is not the case,” Chapter One Foundation stated.
It stated that government had been implementing the issuance of NRCs to citizens pursuant to the National Registration Act Chapter 126 of the Laws of Zambia.
Chapter One Foundation further stated that the registration of citizens in accordance with the National Registration Act Chapter 126 of the Laws of Zambia had been accelerated by the policy of mobile registration in various parts of the country.
It however, stated that government whether willingly or unwillingly had not rolled the mobile registration in all parts of the country and further that the registration services were not uniformly available to all citizens.
Chapter One Foundation stated that following the 2016 Constitutional amendment, the Electoral Process Act was amended to provide for continuous voter registration to be carried out by ECZ.
It argued that by taking actions not provided for in the Constitution, ECZ had wilfully or in ignorance of the law acted outside perimeters of Constitutional limits.
“The respondents in undertaking national registration and deciding to undertake voter registration have neglected to apply the principles that apply to the system of elections in Zambia which principles are mandatory,” read the petition.
Chapter One Foundation now wants the court to make an order mandating the state to implement the mobile issuance of NRC throughout the country and an order for ECZ to carry out continuous voter registration between elections.
It also wants each party to bear its own costs occasioned by the petition.