THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has expressed concern over the lack of awareness by the general public on the voter registration exercise and the timelines set, which may prove to be a challenge.

And the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says 2020/2021 is going to be a rough patch for them as there will be a lot of challenges arising from deliberate misrepresentations.

In a report issued by LAZ secretary Sokwani Chilembo after paying a courtesy call on the ECZ, Tuesday, the association said it was concerned with the lack of awareness by the general public and urged the Commission to invest in visibility.

“Your Council also expressed its concern on the lack of awareness by the general public on the voter registration exercise, and the timelines set, which may prove to be a challenge. Your Council urged the Commission to invest more in visibility, awareness, and stakeholder engagement as there is no luxury of time for the process. LAZ recognizes that the Commission plays a very cardinal role in this country. It superintends a critical process in which leaders are chosen to lead the Nation. LAZ’s view is that if the process goes wrong, the country is set ablaze. Therefore, LAZ wants to ensure that the right thing is done. LAZ is concerned about good image and acceptability, as the integrity of the Commission will be judged by perceptions. LAZ also appealed to the Commission to take on board as many people when it comes to the consultative process, and encouraged the Commission to be as consultative as possible,” Chilembo stated

He also disclosed that the association had been invited by the ECZ to nominate 20 of its members who would represent it at the Operationalization of the Right to Vote for Persons in Lawful Custody” consultative meeting to be held at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre this Friday.

Meanwhile, Chilembo stated that the commission said 2020 to 2021 was expected to be a rough patch as there would be so many challenges arising from misrepresentations.

“The Commission indicated that there are matters which are straight forward, but are turning political. This is making the execution of its mandate difficult. The rationale behind online voter registration is to capture as many people as possible, especially the younger generation that do not want to waste time during registration. There are 8,999 polling stations which will have the physical registration process available. The Commission reiterated that it means well, and has no desire or means to manipulate the election results. It is the Commission’s view that perhaps, some leaders are laying a foundation just in case things do not go their way, hence the criticism they are facing,” he stated.

And Chilembo added that the commission had invited the association to support it whenever it was unfairly attacked.

“The Commission is counting on LAZ to support it when it is unfairly under attack because the Commissioners cannot defend themselves publicly. Therefore, the door is very much open to LAZ anytime, and that the Association must feel free to engage the Commission over any concerns it may have. Equally, the Commission requested that LAZ’s door should also be left open to it,” stated Chilembo.