ELECTORAL Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano says the Commission will not reschedule the voter registration exercise for the 2021 general elections despite the continued increase in COVID-19 cases.

And the ECZ boss says there will be no extension of the voter registration exercise beyond October and has advised Zambians to ensure they take part in the process ahead of the 2021 general elections.

Meanwhile, Nshindano says the commission is still engaging political parties to find a lasting solution to the nomination fees for candidates in the 2021 general elections.

In an interview, Nshindano said the commission had put in place measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the voter registration exercise, hence, there was no need to reschedule the process.

“As a Commission, we are not changing any dates. First and foremost, we have reiterated this fact that the polls for next year are constitutionally enshrined, which is 12th August, 2021 and we were supposed to commence the voter registration in May but because of COVID-19, we decided to move it to October to put in place measures so that we can at least reduce the spread of the pandemic. In everything that we are doing, we have learnt and we have put in place measures for COVID- 19 prevention both in terms of the by-elections and the voter registrations,” Nshindano said.

“So, the voter registration [exercise] will go ahead as scheduled and we basically call upon all the citizens to come forward and register and also as they do that, let them ensure that they also abide by the health guidelines as stipulated. For us as a Commission, we will ensure we put in place measures that will protect them from any risks in terms of getting affected.”

And Nshindano said the commission had no plans of extending the duration of the voter registration period which was expected to take place in October.

“Currently, what is in place is the one month. If the commission gains time with regards to the numerous processes that are underway, that could be a possibility but that is a possibility that citizens should not work with. We should work with what is on the table now that we have the 30 days that is stipulated and that is going to be the registration period and we encourage everyone to take full advantage of that,” he said.

“Don’t say ‘the commission will extend’ because there are a number of processes that follow thereafter; so, if we see it fit that…based on the milestone that we have been able to achieve, we have gained some time that will allow us to meet the targets for the other processes, then that will be considered. But as it stands now, the timeline is extremely tight and we are working with that timeline. We just urge the citizens, let us follow the timeline and let us ensure that everybody registers and that no one is disfranchised for any reason,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nshindano said the commission was still engaging political parties on the revised nomination fees for the 201 general elections.

“We are still engaging so I can’t give a position, but just to let you know that we continue to engage with stakeholders whenever they raise those concerns and it’s not that we are closed up as a commission. So we continue to be able to engage on this and on many other issues and we are still in discussions. But of course as a commission, we concluded with regard to the nomination fees, which we provided as final. We have gotten further feedback. So, based on that, we will still continue to engage and see how best all can be satisfied at the end of the day. It is an ongoing process, all electoral processes, we continuously continue to engage,” said Nshindano.