YES. The Zambian National Registration Cards (NRCs) have been contaminated.
– By who have the NRCs been contaminated?
The Zambian NRCs have been contaminated by the politicians.
– For what purpose did the politicians contaminate the NRCs?
The politicians contaminated the NRCs for purposes of winning elections.
– When and how did the politicians contaminate the NRCs?
The politicianshave been contaminating the Zambian NRCs overtime.
On Thursday 13 January 2000, there was a by-election in Chipangali Constituency of the Eastern Province. A four-member team from the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) comprising a Board Member (myself), the Executive Director, Programmes Manager and Driver set out to go and monitor the by-election.
On the voting day, as we moved from one polling station to the other, we found that every polling station had a second queue of people who were waiting for their voters’ cards. They told us that on Christmas Day, officials from the ruling party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD),had been in the constituency to compile lists of people who were supposed to be given fertiliser.
People had been asked to present both NRC and voters card. After registering their details, they were given back their NRCs, but the voters’ cards remained with the officers. They had been told that their voters’ cards were were going to be given back to them on the voting day. These were the second queues we found at polling stations on polling day.
After monitoring about five (5) polling stations, we decided to go to the Returning Officer, the Town Clerk, to get an explanation. He told us that he was not aware that some people had surrendered their voters’ cards for purposes of registering their names for benefitting from fertiliser distribution.
At the close of voting, the surrendered voters’ cards had not been brought back to the owners.
We left Chipata for Lusaka three days after the by-election. However, before we left, we asked the FODEP provincial office to follow-up the matter to its logical conclusion. There was however no logical conclusion to this saga, except that those who had surrendered their voters’ cards were not given back their voters’ cards, and neither did they get any fertiliser in exchange for those voters’ cards.
After the by-election, FODEP issued a statement condemning the MMD for disenfranchising the electorate in Chipangali Constituency bymaking them surrender their voters’ cards in exchange for fertiliser, which they never even received.
On Thursday 6 February 2003 there was a parliamentary by-election in Keembe Constituency of the Central Province.Few days to the Polling Day, a FODEP team from the Secretariat went to monitor the by-election. The team comprised the National Secretary (myself), Executive Director, Programmes Manager and Driver.
While in Keembe, we noticed a presence of MMD cadres who were ferried to Keembe from Lusaka and the Copperbelt. Another “strange” phenomenon we heard in Keembe was that some MMD cadres had been going round the villages buying voters’ cards from people at K30,000, which is today’s K30.
After the by-election, FODEP issued a statement condemning the MMD for disenfranchising the electorate in Keembe Constituency by buying voters’ cards from them.
On Thursday 18 September 2003 there was a parliamentary by-election in Solwezi Central Constituency of the North Western Province.
“Prior to the election, there were clashes between the MMD and UPND cadres over the issuance of National Registration Cards (NRCs). The situation was so tense that the immediate solution to end the skirmishes was to suspend the issuance of NRCs. The Provincial Permanent Secretary ordered the closure of the registration office, until the election was over,” (Kabanda Simon, 22/09/2003).
As this was happening, the FODEP team from the Secretariat, comprising the National Secretary (myself), Programmes Manager and Driver, were in Solwezi to monitor the by-election. What we learnt from interaction with the electorate was that many people there had sold their voters’ cards because they needed some money to buy the basic necessities of life and living. Some people had sold the cards at K30,000 while others sold them at K40,000 and others at K50,000 (un-rebased currency).
While monitoring the situation in the constituency, we noticed the presence of MMD cadres who had been imported mostly from the Copperbelt.
What was the purpose of importing the cadres from elsewhere? Was it for purposes of campaigning?
As we dug deeper into the issue, we learnt that the MMD had a scheme of issuing NRCs to cadres from outside the Constituency using the details on the voters’ cards, which had been bought from the electorate. This was what had led to clashes between the MMD and UPND cadres over the issuance of NRCs.
After the by-election, FODEP issued a statement condemning the MMD for disenfranchising the electorate in Solwezi Constituency by buying voters’ cards from them. The statement also condemned the violence that had characterised the by-election.
These are examples of three parliamentary by-elections that were characterised by importation of cadres into the constituencies and disenfranchising of the electorate by making them surrender their voters’ cards. These were not isolated practices but they had become the norm for the MMD. This was happening during every by-election.
Getting of voters’ cards from the electorate and giving them to imported cadres for purposes of issuing them with NRCs were in fact the electoral malpractices that gave birth to the “Mapatizya Formula” in 2005. The Mapatizya Formula was meant to counter these malpractices in order to ensure that the election results were a true reflection of the will of the people in the constituency.
When there was a by-election in January 2006 in Milanzi Constituency of the Eastern Province, the Citizens Forum (CF) found that in excess of 2,000 voters’ cards had been surrendered to the MMD in exchange for 4 kg relief maize. The CF could not wait for the by-election to be over and then issue a statement condemning the malpractice. The CF team comprising the Executive Secretary (myself), Lusaka Province Chairperson Charles Sibeene and Driver Lawrence Mulenga decided to collect the voters’ cards from several points where they had been surrendered in order to hand them back to the owners.
When word went round that the CF team had started to collect the voters cards from the points where they had been surrendered by the local people, the MMD National Secretary sent his imported cadres to the area to “deal with” the CF team. The cadres managed to break the windscreen of the CF Ford Ranger, but the CF team “survived coming back dead”.
It is a fact that between 1991 and 2011, there were a lot of MMD cadres who were issued with “alternative” NRCs using the details on the voters’ cards bought from the electorate where by-elections were taking place.There were incidents, for example in Nangoma and other constituencies, where officers from the Department of National Registration were issuing NRCs in the night to MMD cadres using the details on the voters’ cards that had been surrendered by the electorate in exchange for money or relief food or promises of fertiliser.
It is therefore a reality that today there are many people who have more than one NRC bearing different details, but the same face of the bearer.
With all such malpractices to do with issuance of NRCs, is it not true that the Zambian NRCs have been contaminated? Is it not true, therefore, that we have in our midst fake NRCs belonging to fake people?
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SIMON KALOLO KABANDA