VICE-President Inonge Wina says there is no modality for inmates to take part in the 2021 general elections, and that the law is currently being reviewed to incorporate political activities at correctional facilities.
Responding to a question raised by Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu who wanted to find out what modalities were put in place in order to facilitate for the participation of inmates in the 2021 general elections and whether the modalities allowed political parties to access correctional facilities and campaign, Wina said there was a mapping exercise undertaken in all the correctional facilities.
“I wish to inform this August House that the Zambia Correctional Service working with the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the stakeholders have undertaken a mapping exercise in all the correctional facilities across the country. The purpose of this exercise is to collect data on how many prisoners are in possession of National Registration Cards and Voter Registration Cards. The House may wish to note that ECZ is the only institution mandated to plan the election modalities regarding political parties to access and campaign in correctional centres. The Law is being reviewed to incorporate the voting of inmates. Once the law is amended, it will spell out the rules and regulations that will govern and operationalise the election system with regard to voting by inmates,” Vice-President Wina said.
When asked if the political parties were being consulted, Wina said they would be consulted when the laws were finalised.
“This is a new phenomenon for Zambia to have prisoners participate in elections. The ECZ has to look at all the pieces of legislation that will facilitate this exercise. The Law Development of Zambia is being engaged to look at the relevant laws that will respond to this situation that has arisen in the country. And once that has been finalised, I believe the political parties will be engaged in the modalities of conducting the participation of prisoners in elections and rules and regulations that will govern the campaigns in these correctional centres,” she said.
Zambezi East member of parliament Brian Kambita wondered what was compelling the ruling party to have prisoners voting in the next elections, but Wina said the government was merely following the court ruling.
“This is not an idea that is imposed on the Zambian people by the PF government. This is a court ruling that this government is following. However if a member feels that this law is contrary to the way the Zambians conduct their business, the member is free to contest this particular ruling in court because the government is merely following what the court has decided and ruled in favour of. Equally the PF is not as excited as the honourable member may think in this situation but because we have to follow the law, we had to put modalities in place to address the issue,” Wina responded.
Meanwhile, Namwala member of parliament Moono Lubezhi wanted to know whether she would be allowed to campaign in a correctional facility, and the Vice-President said it was not known whether or not political parties would be allowed to campaign in correctional facilities.
“The modalities of how to go about campaigning in the correctional centres are still being worked out by ECZ in conjunction with other governmental relevant institutions. For now, the PF have not been engaged and other political parties have not been engaged to inform us of how to go about this situation. I believe when these measures have been considered and finalised, the modalities will be given to the relevant political parties so that they can start their work in the prisons or we may not be allowed to go in those centres. We do not know yet.” said Wina.