ALLIANCE for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi says the low numbers of people using the pre-online registration platform is an indication that Zambians still have minimal access to technology to effectively participate.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) recently revealed that only 75,000 citizens had successfully registered using the pre-online registration platform.
Commenting on the development, Milupi said it was a disaster to depend on the pre-online registration in a country where technology had not penetrated to the majority citizenry.
“It was not worth it. This confirms our fears that we actually expressed to the ECZ. We had a meeting with the ECZ on Monday, I am talking about the Opposition Alliance, it was the Opposition Alliance presidents and secretary generals. We pressed these fears that the method they have taken to address the issue that they must do away with the existing register and allocate only 30 days for that period is a clear indication that we will fail. I was leading the Opposition Alliance; what has been reported on the online registration has only yielded 75,000 out of a target of four million announced by the CEO of ECZ (Patrick Nshindano) is an indication they are serious problems with IT penetration,” Milupi observed.
“The fact that people have cell phones in rural areas does not mean they can use those cell phones for online registration. We expressed concern that it is not right. That is not the end all because from their (ECZ) explanation, everyone, whether you have registered online or on this mobile registration, you will still have to go in and have your biometrics recorded. So, they knew all these things…they should have planned ahead. Online registration in a country where penetration of these new technologies has not been as prolific as we have loved it to be; it’s actually a disaster to depend on that.
He said the aim of the Opposition Alliance was to ensure that the majority of Zambians had a platform to successfully register to vote in next year’s general election.
“Our anxiety arrives that even when they knew that they were going to do this, it’s too late and they have now allocated a shorter period of time for a country of 975 million hectares to thoroughly do the registration. Our aim in the Opposition Alliance is to ensure that the election results in August, 2021, will be a true reflection of the will of the majority of the people. We have to have as many people as possible to register. If you are coming up with programmes that will constrain this, you are disenfranchising citizens of this country,” said Milupi.