DEMOCRATIC Party leader Harry Kalaba says government should ensure that they adequately fund the extended voter registration exercise so that citizens don’t have to queue up for long hours as has been the case.
In an interview, Kalaba, urged government to adequately fund the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to ensure the forthcoming extended voter registration period ran smoothly to capture as many voters as possible.
He wondered why ECZ was the subject of widespread ridicule when it was simply a victim of insufficient funding by government.
“My comment has always been that the Electoral Commission of Zambia has been working under very difficult circumstances. To waste time and begin talking about the Electoral Commission of Zambia is not understanding how all this enterprise of governance operates because it is the PF government that is supposed to have been funding the Electoral Commission of Zambia. The ECZ calendar should have been supported way back by the PF government, they have not. They have not given them the money they wanted, now that they have extended this period, first of all, thank you very much for listening to the stakeholders; the process of them doing continuous voter registration is not even within their schedule, it is within the schedule of government; releasing money and making the environment conducive, but we are making ECZ as a subject, they are not,” Kalaba said.
“The one who should be a subject is the PF government, they are the ones who have failed to support the electoral body, but for me, the ECZ is working under very difficult circumstances, both financially as well as operative-wise because we have a government that does not want to see the electoral body succeed.”
He observed that if ECZ was adequately funded, the registration process would have been far more efficient.
“We have a government that thinks by frustrating the electoral body, Zambian citizens will be frustrated. First of all, you have citizens lining up for more than seven hours; my own son was on that queue for more than six hours to get a voter’s card! My own mother was on that queue for more than four hours to get a voter’s card! So, I am not talking about something that is not even far, I am talking about a real experience everybody is going through every day. Why we are going on those queues for a long period is not the fault of the ECZ; it’s the fault of the government that does not know whether it’s coming or going because if the ECZ was properly funded, they would have had more electoral personnel stationed all over and people would have been serviced easily,” said Kalaba.
“If the ECZ had adequate funds, the Electoral Commission of Zambia would not have been back letting the way they are doing like grasshopper…today, they are at this polling station, tomorrow they are at that polling station, no! They would have been stationed at one station for one month, people go and register, but because they didn’t have the money, they had to make the best of what they had so it’s a sad scenario. Thank you for the extension, but I only hope that the PF government will give them the resources that they require so that our people stop standing in the queues for unnecessary hours. Those are many hours; we are losing in an economy that is bleeding like this one.”
The ECZ has extended the ongoing voter registration exercise, effective Wednesday, following widespread criticism that the one-month period was too short to accommodate registration of new voters, many of whom are first-time voters.