ELECTORAL Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson Judge Esau Chulu says the commission will consider updating the existing voters’ register instead of producing a new one, as advised by stakeholders.

Speaking during the first political party Liaison Meeting of 2020 at the Commission Headquarters in Lusaka, Tuesday, Justice Chulu insisted that political parties should seek for funding from cooperating partners to observe the printing of ballot papers in Dubai as there was no money.

This is according to a statement issued by ECZ public relations manager Margaret Chimanse, Wednesday.

“The main objective of the meeting was to provide an update to stakeholders on various electoral issues that the Commission was undertaking in preparation for the 2021 general elections, which included the delimitation exercise; printing of ballot papers; registration of voters; results management, prisoner’s voting and the enforcement of the Electoral Code of Conduct Enforcement Regulations. One of the issues which was extensively discussed during the meeting was the proposal by the Commission to produce a new Voter’s Register that targeted nine million voters for the 2021 general elections,” read the statement.

“However, stakeholders expressed concerns over the creation of a new register because of the limited time and the cost of implementing such a comprehensive exercise. The Commission therefore proposed to consider the proposal made by the stakeholders to update existing voters register instead of producing a new register. Stakeholders also appealed to the Commission to review its decision to stop sponsoring political parties to observe the printing of ballot papers. They indicated that this would enhance transparency and credibility of the electoral process. Nevertheless, the Commission encouraged the stakeholders to explore this issue further, including jointly seeking support from cooperating partners as there was no funding for this activity.”

Justice Chulu called on political party leaders to curb hate speech and stop inciting violence during their campaign activities.

He cautioned the police to be professional as they carried on their duties.

“During the meeting the Electoral Commission of Zambia appealed to all political parties to preach positive messages that promote peace and unity in the country, as they carry out their campaign activities and called on party leaders especially, to curb hate speech and stop inciting violence among party cadres. Justice Chulu, said the Commission was concerned with the relationships among political parties during campaign periods where leaders and party members were in the forefront in promoting violence and perpetrating hate speech that led to unnecessary misconduct. The Chairperson urged the political parties to abide by the Electoral Code of Conduct that provided guidelines to all stakeholders, in maintaining a peaceful and inclusive electoral environment, where all had equal space. He cautioned the Police to be professional as they carried out their duties, and to ensure that all parties are accorded equal treatment as provided in the Electoral Code of Conduct,” read the statement.

Justice Chulu said the commission was committed to ensuring that it managed the elections in a credible and transparent manner.

“We remain open to all interested stakeholders to engage with the Commission on issues that may concern them, including clarifications where need be, in a bid to be inclusive and to enhance our electoral process. The Commission, however, will at no point relegate its constitutional mandate, but will continue to strive towards becoming a model electoral management body and be fair in the execution of its mandate,” said justice Chulu.

The meeting was well attended by most political parties with representation by party presidents, and secretary generals among others.