VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina says 832 registration assistants and field officers have been recruited in order to beef up man power in the on-going voter registration exercise.

And Vice-President Wina has announced that the Electoral Commission of Zambia has registered approximately 1.1 million in the first week of the exercise.

The Vice-President said this as she rendered a ministerial statement in response to the point of order raised by Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu on concerns relating to the slow pace of the voter registration exercise by the Electoral Commission of Zambia.

She added that an additional 400 uniformed police officers will also be deployed.

“I do acknowledge that that challenges were faced in the first phase, the first week of the voter registration process but the situation has improved and continues to improve. Mr Speaker, a number of officers have been recruited to beef up the numbers, an additional 832 assistant registration officers and field workers have been recruited and some are still undergoing training and these will be deployed as follows. Those centres that are open 24 hours, additional officers will be sent there and staff shifts to high traffic centres across will have additional officers. Additional kits will be sent to the other populated centres. And 400 uniformed police officers have been engaged to participate in the process. So Mr Speaker, Voter registration is different from NRC issuance. Of course there was mobile issuance of NRCs but the issuance goes on throughout the year and the people can go to district offices and access the NRCs,” she said.

“The Commission has therefore started deploying additional staff and registration kits to the registration centres which have recorded high numbers of people so that the voter registration exercise can be efficiently and expeditiously done. It must be noted that not all centres have recorded a high number of persons intending to register and it is for this reason that extra kits will be deployed to only those that have a huge turnout.”

She encouraged citizens to utilise the online registration platform as there will be designated queues which will be prioritised.

“In order to ensure that eligible citizens who have and may wish to use the online pre-application platform to submit their details spend less time at the Registration Centres, the Commission will be publishing designated Collection Centres specifically for those who submitted their details online. It will be indicated at these centres that designated queues will be available for those who registered on-line. This will give them priority as the process will be quicker. Once those citizens who pre-registered are complete with the process, other members of the public can be attended to on those queues,” she said.

And in response to a question from Bweengwa UPND member of parliament Kasautu Michelo who wanted to find out how many voters had been captured in the first week, Vice-President Wina said about 1.1 million.

“Mr Speaker, in the first phase, the ECZ had expected to capture a bit more but in the first phase, the commission has registered approximately 1,106,000 people across the country and this is an aggregate of all the 10 provinces of Zambia. The commission will provide disaggregated data at the end of the registration exercise and the current system allows for citizens as I said earlier to register from any registration centre across the country,” she said.

Later, Kabompo UPND member of parliament Ambrose Lufuma wanted to find out whether the equipment being used was going to be replaced for improved efficiency as there was talk of the equipment being second hand and not able to handle the huge workload.

And in response, Vice-President Wina noted that the machines procured were new and not second hand as alluded to by the member.

“Mr Speaker, capturing of voters is a security issue that even the machine that is assigned for this purpose has to be very efficient and be able not to be manipulated. Wherever there have been some deficiency in the operations of the kits, there has always been a backup system, another kit that will be placed at that centre because ECZ is on 24 hour alert from all the stations in the country and there can never be a time where the machine can go out of service for a day for many hours. This has been attended to and for the honourable member to insinuate that these machines were second hand machines is very unfortunate because the voter registration equipment was secured or procured using the open bidding tender process which commenced last year and there is no way government could buy second hand equipment or machinery such as the voters registration. Mr Speaker, I thank you,” Vice-President Wina said.

Meanwhile Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo raised a point of order on whether the Vice-president was in order to mislead the nation that government would not default on the Eurobond interest payment when it in fact it has.

“My pint of order is pursuant to our standing orders. In our standing orders, there is a provision for personal explanations and precedence has shown us here in this house once upon a time when her honour the Vice-President voted with us erroneously, the very next day, she came and in accordance with the standing orders, she was allowed a slot for personal explanation and that matter was buried. On Friday Mr Speaker, two member of parliament name; honourable Dr Musokotwane and also the whip of UPND and the leaders of opposition Honorable Jack Mwiimbu the MP for Monze asked her honour the vice president specific questions as to whether or not, on the due date of payment of the interest for the bond, Zambia was going to make the payment. On both occasions, her honour the Vice-President responded in the affirmative and said that while the matter lies in the ministry of finance, Zambia was not defaulting. Clearly Zambia has now defaulted. I want to find out if her honour the Vice-President is in order to remain quiet without coming to this house with an explanation for misleading the country on Friday by stating that Zambia was not defaulting on the interest, I seek you ruling on this matter,” said Nkombo.

In rendering his ruling Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini said the matter in question was already under review and a statement expected to be presented to the House today.

“My ruling is that this matter has been under review and a soon as tomorrow, you will have your statement from the appropriate minister. The statement will be given tomorrow,” said Dr Matibini.