THE Zambia Statistical Agency (ZSA) has estimated that the country has 8.4 million voters, representing 47 percent of the population, according to the 2010 census results.

During a press briefing, interim statistician general Mulenga Musepa warned that any statistics issued by any organisation other than his agency were not official and had no legal basis.

He wondered where the Electoral Commission of Zambia got the nine million eligible voters estimation.

“Eligibility for voting in terms of the age is 18 years and above in Zambia. In estimating the voting eligibility population, the Agency has carried forward the eligibility population of 47 percent from the 2010 Census results. This is on the assumption that the age structure does not change much between two Census periods which in the case of Zambia spans over 10 years. In respect of the above, the 47 percent age structure was applied to all projected district populations and aggregated to come up with an estimate of 8,414,839 eligible voters. This means that any statistics issued by any persons or organisation other than the Agency are not official and have no legal basis,” Musepa said.

“It is worth-noting that population projections like other projections must be used with some caution due to associated and unavoidable limitations. In general, limitations to the projections arise from several and complex interaction of social and economic factors affecting population change. One specific characteristic of population projections is that the reliability of projections decrease over time, in particular beyond five years hence the need to now carry out a census. These limitations can only be reduced through a Census of Population and Housing for which Zambia plans to conduct next year in order to have more reliable and accurate figures.”

He said following widespread debate on the number of eligible voters, it was important for citizens to note that only ZamStats had the authority on official statistical matters.

“Prior to commencement of the voter’s registration exercise, there has been debate on the voter eligibility population in the country. The Electoral Commission of Zambia put the figure at nine million people as eligible voters while other quarters has have put the figure at 7.2 million. There have also been suggestions that the figure should be higher than 9 million. From a legal perspective, only the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) has the authority on official statistical matters in the country. This is in line with the Statistics Act no. 13 of 2018, Part II, Section 7(1) and I quote “The Agency is the sole designated entity responsible for the publication of official statistics”. These statistics include population statistics by age, sex, geographical location such as rural or urban as well as voter eligibility in any year,” said Musepa.

“From this perspective only a statistical figure issued by the Agency is admissible in such national matters. In this respective, the Agency would like to provide guidance on the matter of estimated eligible population for 2021. According to the current projections the following must be noted: The Agency has projected a total population of 17,885,422 people in 2020; and based on the 2010 Census of Population and Housing the age structures were, 47 percent of the total population was aged 18 years and above, 53 percent were aged below 18 years.”