VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina has urged members of parliament to desist from ferrying huge numbers of supporters to National Registration Card (NRC) and voter registration centres because the move is putting unnecessary pressure on registration staff.

Responding to a question from Bweengwa UPND member of parliament Kasautu Michelo during Vice-President’s Question Time, Friday, who charged that government was discriminating against some regions in the ongoing registration process, Vice-President Wina dismissed the allegation, insisting that the process was fair.

She, however, pleaded with members of parliament to desist from ferrying huge numbers of supporters to NRC and voter registration centres because the move was putting unnecessary pressure on registration staff.

“First and foremost, the remarks made by the honourable member are not correct, this government is not discriminating against any provinces or any regions for that matter. Mr Speaker, I wish to reiterate that this government will never discriminate in any of its areas. The registration office is considering to go back to register those that may have missed out during the mobile issuance of NRCs. So, the Ministry is doing an assessment, currently, of where the need is and what the cost will be. When the money is secured, the registration team will go back to those areas, and in view of the above, I am discouraging members of parliament from ferrying people to NRC registration centres as this will put undue pressure on the officers at those centres. Additionally, Mr Speaker, it is important that COVID-19 guidelines are observed as people go to these NRC registration offices. I thank you, Sir,” Vice-President Wina said.

And in a follow-up question by Luampa UPND member of parliament Chikote Makoze on why member of parliaments should not ferry supporters to registration centres, Vice-President Wina argued that the practice was denying local people their right to access services in the centres.

“Mr Speaker, I have pointed out that the issuance of NRCs will be done during the period of voter registration. The reason why we are discouraging ferrying of many people to these centres is that we are overwhelming the system because we know that the voter registration will go around the constituencies and yet members of parliament still ferry people to the nearest centre where they hear that the team has mobilised and this is really putting a lot of pressure on the workers as well, and the local people are being denied their right to access the services that they should get in that centre. So, I still discourage members of parliament to bring mass multitudes of people to assemble at a registration centre because their facilities are not available to support such crowds. And also, pressure on the workers, sometimes they even feel intimidated when things like this happen, so I believe that the members of parliament are equally interested in seeing that as many of our people as possible are not disenfranchised and help the ECZ to continue with its work without too many interruptions,” she replied.

And when asked by Mufumbwe UPND member of parliament Elliot Kamondo on whether the ECZ would consider an extension of the registration period, Vice-President Wina said that the extension could only be considered after assessment at the end of the initial period, which lapes on December 12.

“Mr Speaker, whenever the gadgets are at fault, the headquarters usually replaces them on time and if it’s a smaller repair that needs to be done on the spot, there are engineers in these areas in these centres to ensure that the machines operate according to the maximum efficiency that the ECZ expects. As to the extension of time, I have been informed that the ECZ will observe how the registration goes and ECZ believes that it will reach the required numbers before the end of the exercise and at the end of the exercise, an analysis will be made, an assessment will be done as to whether there is need to increase the number of days or not, I thank you, Sir,” she replied.

Meanwhile, the Vice-President announced that oil exploration was ongoing and that the country will be updated when the process was completed.

“Mr Speaker, exploration of reserves, natural reserves, such as oil or mineral reserves take a along time and the exploration for oil in Gwembe (District) and other areas I know in the northern part of Zambia, Western Province, the exploration is still ongoing and when government comes up with results, the nation will be informed. Thank you, Sir,” said Vice-President Wina.