ELECTORAL Commission of Zambia Chief Electoral Officer Patrick Nshindano says the Commission has extended the voter registration exercise for four days.

And Nshindano says the Commission has so far registered over six million eligible voters.

Meanwhile, Nshindano says the Commission has applied for a supplementary budget of K152 million from government.

At a media briefing, Tuesday, Nshindano said the voters registration extension would commence on Thursday December 17 to midnight on Sunday December 20, 2020.

“The Commission is pleased to announce that the extended voter registration will now commence on Thursday 17th December, 2020. In our last briefing, we did mention that this will commence on Wednesday but take note that this will commence on Thursday 2020 for a period of four days up to to mid midnight on Sunday in all the 116 districts throughout the country. So the exercise will conclude on midnight Sunday 20th December, 2020. So it is for four days. So this will be undertaken in 116 districts throughout the country,” Nshindano said.

“Let me mention that in arriving at the four days extension, the Commission has taken into consideration the need to capture as many eligible voters while taking into consideration the electoral calendar for the 12th August, 2021 elections. During this voter registration extension, special attention will be given to all civic centres in the 116 districts and registration centres which had high numbers of eligible voters. Let me also mention that no kits will be withdrawn from the provinces so the current kits in the provinces will be allowed to operate as was operational during the voters registration period.”

And Nshindano said the Commission had so far registered over six million eligible voters.

“Allow me to give you some statistics. The consolidated figure for phase four is 2,086,433 registered voters bringing the total number of registered voters for the entire period of the voters registration exercise to 6,407,752. Let me first mention that as a Commission, we are highly encouraged by the numbers captured during this voters registration period and this basically accounts for 76.1 percent of the eligible voters as given by the Zambia Statistical Agency of 8.4 million against what has been captured,” Nshindano said.

“Let me also speak to the nine million the Commission targeted. Of course the Commission’s target was based on the 2010 census as guided by the Zambia Statistical Agency and given that statistical production is not our mandate, we welcome the correction on the eligible voters. For us we were basically projecting the number. As a Commission, we are actually pleased that we had a higher target because this made us prepare adequately and ensure that we captured as many people as possible. We would like to appeal to all those that had not registered during the last 30 days of the voters registration to make an effort to do so during the four day extension period and to ensure that the Commission is able to capture as many as possible with regards to the eligible voters.”

He said the Commission had so far registered 11,000 prisoners from a target of 16,000.

“Allow me to also give you an update with regards to persons in lawful custody. The voter registration for people in lawful custody which commenced on Wednesday 9th December and concluded also on 12th December, 2020 has also been extended by four days. Out of the targeted number of 16,000 persons in lawful custody, the Commission registered a total number of 11,359 representing 71 percent of all the eligible persons in lawful custody. As a Commission, we are highly encouraged by the response of the persons in lawful custody and we encourage all those that have not done so to do so,” he said.

Nshindano said the Commission had revised its activities to suit the election date of 12th August, 2021.

“We have reiterated this point that there are a number of activities that need to be undertaken as a Commission to ensure that we have a free and credible elections come 12th August, 2021. The voter registration which has run for 34 days which began on 9th November to 12th December is followed by an extension of four days which will run from the 17th December to 20th December 2020. After which we will have to undertake what is known as demobilisation. The demobilisation exercise basically entails pulling back all the registration kits to the centres. This will take a period of five days from 22nd December to 28th December 2020. This will be followed by the consolidation of data from the kits and as you know these kits are not linked, so they have to be linked at the center so that they can be uploaded to our main data centre for consolidation purposes. So that exercise of voters registration consolidation exercise will run from 30th December to 31st January 2021. This will run for a period of 32 days,” Nshindano said.

“…Which will be followed by a very critical exercise of voters registration de-duplication and clean up which will run from 1st February to 28th February, 2021, which is 28 days. So this ideally should take 60 days. It is a very critical exercise for the credibility of the voters’ roll. We have put in measures to double the efforts on the part of the Commission to ensure we catch up on the lost time that we lost at the beginning of the registration exercise. We hope that we do the very best to have this process cleaned up and the de-duplication process, that will lead us to the consolidation of a provisional register and publication which will run for a period of 21 days from 1st March 2021 to 21st March 2021. This will take us into another critical element of provisional voter register inspection and I urge the public to calendar this which is 2nd April 2021 to 6th April, 2021 for a period of five days and this is for inspection purposes. All those that are registered or who will be registered are encouraged to ensure that they inspect the register against their captured details. If there are any corrections or re-issuance of the cards, this is the time it will be done.”

Nshindano said the nomination of Presidential candidates would run from 14th June to 18th June, 2021.

“This will lead up to the voter registration certification which is 9th May, 2021 which is also the date we had indicated at the cut of date for those that are 17 and turning 18 years old. This will immediately be followed by the Presidential nominations which will run from 14th to 18th June 2021 for a period of five days. This will be followed by members of parliaments, mayor, council chairperson nominations on 14th June 2021 for one day as these are decentralised. After this the following day which is 15th June 2021 we will have nominations for ward councilors for one day. The law also provides for petition of nominations, the petition for nomination will run for 21 days as provided in statues from 21st June to 11th July 2021,” Nshindano said.

“This now will lead us as a Commission after all the nominations are done to undertake our very critical administrative purposes, one of them being the printing of ballot papers which will be done from 1st July to 31st July, 2021 for 31 days. This is for all categories of elections. After the printing of ballot papers, there will be the aspect of verification of ballot papers from 29th of July to 4th August, 2021 for seven days, which will take us right up to the holding of the general elections on 12th August, 2021.”

Meanwhile, Nshindano said the Commission had applied for a supplementary budget of K152 million from the Ministry of Finance.

He said out of the initial budget of K674 million, government had only provided K557 million, with K117 million yet to be given to the Commission.

“We have also submitted a supplementary budget of K152 million. So yet to be funded is K152 plus K117 million. We are confident and we are still engaging and there is assurance from the Treasury that these resources will be available to us and we appeal to them especially when we get to this extension period that these resources are made available,” said Nshindano.