GOVERNMENT has not only abided by the provisions of the National Registration Act, but has also strictly followed the provisions of the Constitution in implementing the mobile registration exercise and in the issuance of NRCs, deputy registrar general in the Department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship under the Ministry of Home Affairs Alick Mvula has submitted.

This is in a matter in which Chapter One Foundation Limited has petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking a declaration that the limitation of the period within which voter registration will be conducted to 30 days is unconstitutional.

It also wants a declaration that ECZ’s decision and intention to disallow currently registered voters from voting in the 2021 general elections and future elections is unconstitutional and, therefore, null and void.

The non-governmental organisation is further seeking a declaration that the geographical limitation to the issuance of National Registration Cards (NRCs) will result in the disenfranchisement of many Zambians in contravention of the national values and is, therefore, unconstitutional.

Chapter One Foundation which has cited ECZ and the Attorney General as respondents, also wants the court to make an order of mandamus directing the Attorney General to implement the mobile issuance of NRCs throughout the country and an order of mandamus directing ECZ to carry out continuous voter registration between elections.

But Mvula, the Attorney General’s affidavit in support of the answer to the amended petition, stated that prior to the commencement of the mobile registration exercise, the Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo issued a ministerial statement in Parliament on how the mobile exercise would be conducted.

He stated that with regard to the current mobile registration exercise, due to unfavourable economic factors currently prevailing in the country, government decided to implement the said exercise in two phases and had, as at the date of the filing of the petition by Chapter One Foundation allocated 40 days to each province.

“Further to the above, the first phase commenced on August 1, 2020 on the Copperbelt, in Eastern, Luapula, Northern and North-Western provinces. The phase was scheduled to end on September 9, 2020 while the second phase was to commence on September 10, 2020 in the remaining provinces: Central, Copperbelt, Lusaka, Muchinga, Southern and Western,” Mvula stated.

“Due to some initial challenges in the first 10 days of the first phase, government extended the first phase to September 19, 2020 and the second phase commenced on September 20, 2020.”

Mvula further stated that the total number of days for the second phase would be determined by how the exercise would proceed but the same would never be less than 40 days which was the minimum number of days as pronounced by Kampyongo in Parliament.

He stated that when determining how the current mobile registration exercise would be conducted, the provincial and district administration authorities in all the provinces were engaged by the Ministry of Home Affairs and that through the engagement, the Ministry of Home Affairs was able to develop a plan to effectively and efficiently register as many citizens as possible through out the country.

Mvula stated that in between the mobile registration exercises or cycles, any provincial authority may, at its own cost, request the registrar general for the department to conduct a targeted mobile registration exercise.