THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says the Commission has only been funded with K470 million against the K672 million that was budgeted for, leaving a deficit of over K200 million.

And the Commission says a total of 2,704,426,00 have so far registered as voters.

Speaking during a media briefing in Lusaka, Friday, ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano announced that as of last week, the Commission had only received K472 million, leaving a budget deficit of K202 million to conduct the ongoing voter registration process.

When asked what caused the hiccups in the registration process, Nshindano revealed that the Commission had not been fully financed with adequate resources to execute its mandate.

“Firstly, I think we are faced with a good problem as the Commission in terms of turnout. The turnout was overwhelming! Fully funded as yet, not yet fully met with resources. I need to cross-check as of today (Friday) how much we were at. As of last week, we were at K470 [million] against the K672 [million] that we were supposed to be funded for. This commitments remain firm on the part of the Treasury and they do release these funds on a regular basis as requested,” Nshindano said.

He apologised for the inconvenience caused in selected parts of the country, explaining that the registration kits had an automatic “log-out” feature.

“Allow me to apologise for the inconvenience experienced yesterday (Thursday) in selected centres across the country due to the automatic log-out feature on the kits. Some of our officers were unable to log into the system, hence delaying the commencement time. Let me mention that this is a security feature embedded in the kits to cut-off at the end of the registration exercise to ensure that no one can conduct registration after the close of the exercise. As we have set now, when it is 12th December, the system will automatically close, implying that after that, nobody can register,” he explained.

“And it is for a very simple reason the kits are spread throughout the country, some very hard to reach and we don’t want anybody to exploit that system in transit or having to re-collect the kits where they are. So, they automatically log-off when you set the preset time. The Commission had pre-set the kit to log-out on the 26th of November, 2020, which was the end-date before the postponement and this cannot be overridden until expiry. Registration officers were guided accordingly on how to log-in after the expiry, but, however, some failed and we had to urgently send technical supervisors to assist. I am pleased to announce that all centres are now operational.”

Nshindano also announced that a total of 2,704,426,00 had registered in the first and second phase.

“Let me take this opportunity to state that the Commission has made tremendous progress in registering voters and the following formulative statistics have been recorded in the past two phases of the voter registration exercise. Phase one, as was announced by Her Honour the Vice-President in Parliament, 1,106,000,000 was what was recorded in phase one. Phase two, which ended this Tuesday, was 1,598,426,00. That is approximately a 44 per cent increase from the first phase bringing us to a total of 2,704,426,00, that is the total of phase one and phase two. I know a lot of you want a breakdown of the registrations per region,” Nshindano said.

“Unfortunately, I am unable to give you those breakdowns for a very simple reason: the registration exercise allows for one to register from any point, to vote from any jurisdiction. So, one can register in Lusaka to vote from Chipata. One can register from Mongu to vote from Chilubi so as to guard and to ensure that we don’t have numbers that are not reflective of what is on the ground, that data will only be made available at the end of the exercise after the aggregation of the data from across the country. That is when we will know what number is voting from where. Because, currently, it is not possible the kits are not linked and the disaggregation has not been done.”

But when asked if the voter registration process was going to be extended, Nshindano maintained that the Commission still had no intention to do so.

“At this point in time, there is no intent on the part of the Commission to extend the voter registration exercise. That decision can only be considered once we are done with the voter registration exercise. It is important that, as a Commission, we are continuously reviewing the numbers as they come in and we will advise the nation after the exercise has been concluded that is 12th December, 2020. We are confident that the statistics are going to improve as you have noted the second phase has almost the 44 percent jump,” replied Nshindano.

“In the third, we are actually expecting an exponential increase and even a higher increase in the fourth phase. What magic are we going to apply? You will note that a number of measures that have been put in place most of them will take effect in the third phase and by the fourth phase, you will see that all these will have been circled and all measures that have been put in place, both in terms of the human resource as well as provisional kits in some areas that would have been done.”