VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina says government is currently engaging the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) over concerns raised by members of parliament on the need to extend the voter registration exercise.

And Vice-President Wina says government is still sourcing funds to ensure that those who were not captured in the first phase of the mobile issuance of NRCs are covered.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Wina has insisted that UPND will be to blame for the low participation of women in the 2021 general elections.

During Vice-President’s question time in Parliament, Friday, Kalomo Central member of parliament Harry Kamboni wanted to find out whether ECZ was considering an extension to the voter registration exercise.

In response, Vice-President Wina said ECZ would be engaged on the complaints made by MPS in the House to ensure a positive step was taken.

“Mr Speaker, the Electoral Commission of Zambia has the mandate to run elections in the country and when issues arise, it is the Commission that looks into all the various aspects regarding the efficient management of the electoral process. When the issues that are being brought to the House by the members are discussed with the ECZ, we will be given direction as to what course of action ECZ will be taking in view of the many complaints that the country and the government is receiving all over the country. So this is a matter that will be referred to the Electoral Commission of Zambia to look into so that we do not disenfranchise our people and hopefully that we register more than the number that was indicated by ECZ. So this is an ongoing process and ECZ will be informed,” Vice-President Wina said.

And Vice-President Wina said government was still sourcing funds to ensure the continuous issuance of NRCs.

“Mr Speaker, the House is aware that the mobile voters registration (issuance of NRCs) is ongoing and it was put in a phased manner starting with five provinces and now ending with five provinces. As to the issuance of NRCs by those that missed out on the first round, we had promised that the Ministry of Home Affairs will look into this matter and it needs mobilisation of resources to go back to capture the persons who were not captured in the first round. So the Ministry is still looking into this matter and when funds are made available, the officers will go back to the areas that were left out,” Vice-President Wina said.

And Responding to a follow up question from Nkeyema UPND member of parliament Kapelwa Mbangweta who asked what assistance was being rendered by the office of the Vice-President in ensuring that national registration centers remained operational in Western Province, Vice-President Wina said information on the matter was already disseminated but that opposition MPs missed out when they shunned Bill 10.

“Mr Speaker, a lot of information was disseminated to the members of parliament at the beginning of the mobile issuance of NRCs but this was the same period that members of parliament were literally hiding, some of them hiding from Parliament due to the debate on Bill 10. So they missed out on a lot of information that was required during that five days extension of the NRC issuance. You will find that the areas that were left out, that were the areas where the Permanent Secretary in the area was trying to get in touch with his people to inform them about the extension of another week following the complaints during the first phase of the issuance of NRCs. So, I cannot really guarantee 100 per cent returning of officers in all the areas that had missed out, but the Ministry of Home Affairs is still looking into this matter, particularly in acquiring resources to undertake this exercise because this is a costly exercise to move teams to the provinces,” she said.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Wina insisted that UPND would be to blame for the low participation of women in the 2021 general election.

“Zambia is a signatory not only to the SADC protocol on gender representation but also to international instruments on gender equality including the UN convention. However, we have tried as a country to promote the number of women and other disadvantaged groups to be represented in Parliament, in councils, on boards in the private sector. However, this has not worked that is why the PF government came with a proposal to increase the number by proposing through Bill 10 that there should be a mixed member Parliament where a fixed number of the disadvantaged groups can be brought to Parliament. This has not passed and our UPND colleagues have declared that they do not want to see many women in Parliament and the young people in Parliament,” said Vice-President Wina.

“The country will hold UPND accountable for the loss of that opportunity when we would have had more women in Parliament after the 2021 elections. I challenge the political party to ensure that in 2021 more women will be adopted, especially in the safe seats held by UPND to ensure that more women are brought to Parliament.”

And Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu rose on a point of order, wondering whether the Vice-President was in order to mislead the House that opposition members of parliament went into hiding because of Bill 10.

“I rise on a point of order on her honour the Vice-President. Arising from the statement she has issued on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, the sanctity of this House must be protected, she has made an allegation that the honourable members on your left were hiding during the issuance of national registration cards and that was the time when Bill 10 was on the floor. Mr Speaker, you may recall that the honourable Minister of Home Affairs issued a statement that he is not going to allow anyone to be involved in the support of NRCs apart from his officials. How can her honour the Vice-President when her Minister gave a directive that he will not allow any other person to be involved and yet she is now saying that MPs were hiding? She knows that there was no evidence that members were hiding. We were in the House and that is when we raised these issues. Is she in order to make a statement which is untrue, which is misleading and which should not be entertained by this House, is she in order?” asked Mwiimbu.

Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini reserved his ruling on the matter.

However, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo also raised a point of order, asking whether Mwiimbu was in order to mislead the nation on matters regarding the mobile issuance of registration cards.

“Mr Speaker, I have been seated here following the business of the House attentively until my name and Ministry was drawn to debate. Mr Speaker, I have made statements in this August House, very clear statements which are on record. At no point did I say members of parliament were not to participate in the process of sensitizing their members of constituencies on the importance of being registered as citizens and get issued with NRCs. I know you have reserved your ruling Mr Speaker,” said Kampyongo.

“I have further gone to engage my fellow MPs including those from Western Province and it is true that when the Permanent Secretary of Western Province was trying to get hold of the members of parliament from that province, they were avoiding him and his calls when we extended for five days the exercise of mobile registration. Is the honourable member of parliament for Monze Central and leader of opposition in order to mislead this August House through his point of order and indeed mislead the nation when all the statements pertaining to the mobile issuance of NRCs are very clear and I came here even to pronounce extensions to the exercise of both phases? I know you have reserved your ruling, but I equally deserve my point of order to be taken into account. I seek your seriously ruling.”

Dr Matibini also reserved his ruling on the matter.