THE Electoral Commission of Zambia has postponed the commencement of the mobile registration of voters to November 9, 2020.

And the Commission says the response to the online pre-registration is not encouraging.

At a press briefing, Tuesday, ECZ chief elections officer Patrick Nshindano said the decision to extend the commencement of the mobile voters registration was arrived at due to the extension of days on the issuance of NRCs in the second phase.

“The Commission set 28th October, 2020 to 30th November, 2020 as the dates within which to conduct mobile voter registration throughout the country in various registration centres and stationed registration of voters at district centres and civic centres. The Voter registration exercise will be followed by the inspection of the Register of Voters before the Register is finally certified as a final register.The Commission continues to collaborate with the Department of National Registration, Passports and Citizenship (DNRPC), of the Ministry of Home Affairs, on the issuance of NRCs. The Commission has also noted that the DNRPC has extended the period of the mobile issuance of NRCs by 5 days from the 30th October 2020 to 5th November, 2020. The Commission has also noted concerns by the stakeholders and some members of the public on the need to acquire NRCs to enable them to register as voters,” Nshindano said.

“Therefore, in order not to disenfranchise our people, the Commission has again found it imperative to reschedule the dates for the registration of voters which was scheduled to commence tomorrow Wednesday 28th of October, 2020 to 30th November, 2020. Mobile voter registration and stationed voter registration will now be conducted from 9th November, 2020 to 12th December, 2020. The Commission hopes that this extension to start the mobile voter registration will give an opportunity to a good number of eligible citizens to acquire NRCs and be able to register as voters. In a case that the issuance of NRCs is not concluded, the Commission will unfortunately proceed with Voter Registration as scheduled. It is our hope that the Ministry of Home Affairs will have concluded their exercise. And in this respect I wish to appeal to the Ministry of Home Affairs to swiftly conclude this exercise of issuing NRCs which are a prerequisite for one to register as a voter.”

Nshindano said the Commission would issue a fresh deployment schedule for the mobile voter registration.

“The Commission will issue in the media a fresh deployment schedule of the mobile voter registration exercise. As such, I urge you and members of the public to look out for this time table of where our registration officers will be stationed,” Nshindano said.

And Nshindano said the capturing of only 130,000 users on the pre online registration platform was not encouraging.

“The ongoing online voter pre-registration exercise which began on 21st September, 2020 will now close on 20th November, 2020. The Commission is successfully capturing eligible citizens online and so far the Commission has recorded 130,000 users on our voter pre-registration platform. This is a low number we could have expected much much higher numbers. The numbers are not encouraging on the pre online and again it’s not too late, it will be running up to 20th November now. We hope that stakeholders can work with us and stop sending mixed messages to the public, so that the general public can take full advantage of this platform and ensure they pre register,” he said.

Nshindano said the Commission was not worried about the low numbers of people using the online platform as it was optional.

“Based on the pre online, is the commission worried in terms of meeting its set targets? The setup of eight to nine million is based on the Zambia Statistical Agency in terms of eligible voters. Are we worried given that the pre online voter registration has only captured 130,000? Not really because the pre online voters registration is optional, it’s a channel and vehicle we hope that will quicken the registration process. It has no direct impact in terms of the actual voter registration,” Nshindano said.

Meanwhile, Nshindano urged political parties to source funds to sponsor their observers to Dubai for the printing of ballot papers.

“I hope they have been in the position to raise funds for observations. One of the aspects we did explore was engagement with cooperating partners to see how they can support, to date nothing has been committed in this regard. So I do hope that political parties are looking at avenues of mobilising resources and they are able to come through and observe during the printing exercise,” said Nshindano.