Vice-President Inonge Wina says the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) cannot reschedule the ongoing delimitation sittings of districts and constituencies because doing so could have adverse effects on other key electoral activities.
And Vice-President Wina says it is impossible for the National Assembly to provide members of parliament with logistical support to get to their constituencies and make submissions in the delimitation exercise because MPs have a fixed allowance from Parliament for visiting their constituencies.
Delivering a statement to respond to a point of order raised by Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu, Wednesday, Vice-President Wina said rescheduling the delimitation exercise would equally affect preparations for the 2021 general elections.
In his point of order on Friday, July 12, 2019, Mwiimbu sought the Speaker’s ruling on whether or not the Vice-President was in order to allow delimitation meetings to take place, while Parliament was sitting, taking into account that parliamentary duties took precedence.
Responding to Mwiimbu, Vice-President Wina explained that the ECZ could not afford to reschedule the district delimitation sittings because that would have an adverse impact on other key electoral activities, such as voter registration.
“The Electoral Commission of Zambia, in accordance with Article 58 of the Constitution of Zambia, amendment Act number 12, 2016, is mandated to conduct the delimitation of constituencies and wards. Section 21 of the Electoral Process Act number 35 of 2016 further mandates the Commission to conduct the delimitation of polling districts. Delimitation is conducted at intervals of not more than 10 years. Madam Speaker, in view of this constitutional and statutory mandate, the Commission has commenced the process of conducting the delimitation of constituencies, wards and polling districts. The district sittings, which commenced on 8th July, 2019, are expected to be concluded on 28th September, 2019. The district sittings will then be followed by the provincial sittings, which will commence on 14th October to 30th November, 2019,” Vice-President Wina said.
“Madam Speaker, the delimitation exercise is a prerequisite for the registration of voters, which the Commission had earmarked to commence in 2020 as it prepares for the 2021 general elections. Therefore, the Commission cannot afford to reschedule the district delimitation sittings as this will have an adverse impact on other key electoral activities, such as voter registration. This may, therefore, affect preparations for the 2021 general elections, which as we now all know has a fixed date provided for in the Constitution. Madam Speaker, a detailed schedule of the district delimitation sittings has been disseminated to the honourable members. I, therefore, recommend that the honourable members of parliament take time to look at the dates as to when the sittings will be held in their respective districts and plan to participate in the sittings.”
She reminded Mwiimbu that MPs had actually been given an opportunity to give their submissions during a workshop organized by the ECZ for members of parliament.
“Madam Speaker, the House will also recall that members of parliament were consulted on Wednesday, 22nd June, 2019, through a workshop, which was held here at Parliament buildings by the Electoral Commission of Zambia. ECZ accordingly took note of the submissions from the members of parliament during that consultative meeting. The essence of that workshop was to consult members of parliament on the delimitation process before going to districts. Therefore, members of parliament have been adequately consulted. However, honourable members are at liberty to make written submissions on the delimitation process relating to their respective wards and constituencies and such submissions can be sent to the Chief Electoral Officer. These written submissions will be viewed during the district and provincial sittings as a way of getting consensus among stakeholders,” said Vice-President Wina.
And responding to Lukulu East UPND member of parliament Christopher Kalila, who wanted to know if government, through the National Assembly, would provide MPs with logistical support to their constituencies in order to participate in the delimitation exercise, Vice-President Wina said that was not possible.
“That is not possible under the current circumstances, even if there were no current circumstances. MPs go to their constituencies and we are given allowances in this Parliament to get to our constituencies. So, the same facility that we receive can enable us to go back to our constituencies and make our submissions,” replied Vice-President Wina.