THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says voter registration for prisoners in correctional facilities will be conducted in the last phase of the mobile voter registration exercise.

In an interview, ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano said the guidelines and legal drafting for prison voting was concluded and had since been presented to various stakeholders.

“Voter Register for prisons will be conducted in the last phase of voter registration, week ending the 12th of December. The guidelines and legal drafting for prison voting was concluded and these were presented to the stakeholders, which included CSOs, political parties, LAZ, Judiciary, Service Chiefs, among others, who provided input. The Zambia Law Development Commission, which is the lead organisation working with the technical committee, is now integrating the stakeholders input. The final guidelines and legal amendments, if any, will be shared with stakeholders before final implementation in readiness for 2021 polls,” said Nshindano.

And in a separate interview, Zambia Correctional Service (ZCS) Commissioner General Dr Chisela Chileshe said the Commission was awaiting completion of modalities by the Zambia Law Development Commission and ECZ.

“The Zambia Law Development Commission and the ECZ are doing their modalities. When they finish, they will tell us how we will proceed. We also don’t know when it will happen. No inmate has been registered,” said Dr Chisela.

Last month, Vice-President Inonge Wina announced that there was no modality for inmates to take part in the 2021 general election, and that the law was 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 the participation of inmates in the 2021 general election and whether the modalities allowed political parties to access correctional facilities and campaign, Vice-President 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 (NRCs) 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,” said Vice-President Wina.