THE Prisons Care and Counselling Association (PRISCA) has urged the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to be efficient in registering inmates in order for them to fully participate in the electoral process.
In an interview, PRISCA executive director Godfrey Malembeka said no eligible inmate should be left out.
“We expect the ECZ to start registering voters in prisons now. Of course, they made that promise and we are a member of the ECZ technical team so we need them. And my message is that, let them commit themselves with sustained commitment. Let them instruct their staff in all the provinces to utilise this week to using it the maximum otherwise that judgement will not be operationalised. It depends on the National Registration Cards (NRCs) and voter’s cards. We also give a call to the Department of National Registration, Passports and Citizenship to simultaneously do this and help their brothers and sisters. We have a number of commitments, they should allow those suffering Zambians that have been disenfranchised for 56 years to go and choose leaders of their choice,” Malembeka said.
“I’m very excited as an ex-prisoner because those people are equally Zambians. The old law was outdated. You cannot manage in a Christian nation to segregate more than 20,000 and you still call yourselves Christian nation, no! There is no correlation between punishing someone and choosing a leader. That’s how they wanted to punish those people, still more there was no relationship. Furthermore, this is a new era, we are in the correct model. The emphasis is to prepare people so that they become better citizens.”
He urged the Department of National Registration to issue NRCs to inmates simultaneously as the voter registration kicks-off on Wednesday.
“So, I’m very happy and I know that there are many Zambians who are actually very happy, except people cannot know because we didn’t work very well with you, the media. We need help from the cooperating partners to work with the media because that is a declared period of one month. I agreed with this period because one, I am a member of the technical working group and I wanted to give a chance to the Department of National Registrations and Passports to issue NRCs. When we visited 30 correctional centres, we found a lot of incarcerated people with NRCs; we found a lot of those that went there as juveniles, but now, they are big people,” said Malembeka.
“It is easier to give voter’s cards to incarcerated people, it’s easier to give them NRCs than it is to give outside. People are busy fishing outside, but those are in controlled areas; it’s just a matter of a whistle; they parade and you give them. So, I know if they maximise their commitment, they will definitely manage to register all of them.”