THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has moved the presidential nomination date from May 14 to between 17th May and 20th May 2021.

And the Commission has also set dates for nomination petitions from 15th May to 11th June 2021.

Meanwhile Examination Council of Zambia director Michael Chilala has explained that one can get a Grade 12 certificate even if they barely passed at least 6 subjects by getting a grade of eight.

Speaking during a joint press conference in Lusaka, Wednesday, ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano said the adjustments in the dates were meant to leave room for the dissolution of parliament so that incumbent MPs can be accorded a chance to files in their nominations and recontest their seats.

“The presidential nomination has been moved; it will now be from 17th to 20th May 2021. National Assembly nomination will be on 17th May 2021. So this now facilitates for dissolution of parliament so that those that wish to recontest can do that freely after Parliament has been dissolved. Mayor and council chairpersons nominations will be on 18th May 2021. Ward councillor nominations will be on 19th May 2021. In keeping with the provision of our statutes, and ensuring that the three months campaign period is also upheld, campaigns however will start slightly earlier than the nomination period. In an ideal situation you would want the campaign period to start after the nominations but we also have to observe the provisions as provided for in the law to provide for that 90 day window. So the campaign period will be on 12th May to 11th August 2021. So this is about five days before the presidential nominations. Nomination petition will be on 15th May to 11th June 2021. And of course the big one which is 12th August 2021,” he said.

Nshindano said the calendar was revised to accommodate the provision of dissolution of parliament.

“We would like to inform you and the nation that the calendar has since been revised to accommodate the provision of the dissolution of parliament which has been set for 14th May 2021. Procedurally, nominations should be held after the dissolution of parliament therefore the nomination period has been revised in line with these requirements. If you recall, our nomination date was on the 11th of May and now Parliament will be dissolved on 14th May. So the rest of the activity dates remain unchanged. We have also added activities and dates to aid aspiring candidates as they prepare for the nomination period. Voter registration which we are fully aware in terms of when it was undertaken, this was undertaken in the month of November and December and this has been concluded. This was followed by the consolidation of the data and now we are at the stage of voter inspection,” Nshindano said.

“The physical inspection of the provisional register will be on the 29th March to 2nd April, 2021. Payment of nomination fees, this is something that has been added, it wasn’t in the previous update in terms of the calendar will be on the 1st to 9th May 2021. So before the nomination date, candidates will be required to pay in advance the nomination fee and this is to allow the processing of supporters.”

He announced that ECZ has increased the number of wards from 1,624 to 1,853 and polling districts from 7,700 to 8,999.

“The Commission received submissions in the delimitation exercise that was conducted in all districts across the country in 2019. The Commission has since increased the number of wards from 1,624 to 1,853 and polling districts from 7,700 to 8,999. The review of constituency boundaries was also concluded and the delimitation report has also been concluded and this was handed over to the Executive. However, the number of constituencies has since remained the same at 156 as there was no amendment to the Constitution to facilitate for either an upward or downward number in terms of constituencies,” said Nshindano.

Meanwhile, Nshindano said the Commission would not accept uncertified results from candidates.

“On the part of the Commission, we will not accept certified results copies from 2016. This is a new election and we also have new guidance based on the Constitutional Court ruling and therefore, we anticipate that all certification of results shall be per certification for 2021. Message to the political parties is read the judgement, that is a good starting point. We are not going to come up with anything different that the court has ruled. We have to basically follow the ruling as prescribed by the court. However, we will also do a circular [for] political parties just to tell them what is expected as per ruling. All certificates have to be certified. Please do not come with uncertified documentation to the Commission, we will not accept them. And we don’t want to be in a position where nomination papers are rejected. Please ensure that they are certified,” said Nshindano.

“Following the guidance by the Constitution Court in the case of Bizwayo Newton Nkunika v Lawrence Nyirenda and the Electoral Commission of Zambia 2019/CCZ/ 005 relating to the interpretation of the term grade 12 certificate or its equivalent under Article 70 (1) (d) of the Constitution of Zambia. For purposes of the 2021 general election all candidates will be required to have their grade 12 certificate or equivalent validated by the Examination Council of Zambia or the Zambia Qualifications Authority. Take note that qualifications from tertiary institutions such as trade, certificates, diploma or university degree are not equivalent to a grade 12 certificate and therefore will not separately be accepted without a grade 12 certificate. Aspiring candidates should ensure that they obtain supporting letters from institutions validating their certificates which should be presented together with the nomination papers and verified certificates on nomination day.”

Speaking at the same event Chilala said in an event that someone only passed in five subjects, they could still get a certificate as long as English was one of them and they got a credit or better in one of the subjects.

“For you to obtain a school certificate, there are two ways, you pass six subjects including English and in passing you can even have a grade eight, it’s a pass. You pass six subjects including English but one of the subjects must be credit or better. So for clarity’s sake you can have five grade eights and then you have one subject where you have a six. Even if English is at grade eight you still make a school certificate,” said Chilala.

“The second condition is that if you pass five subjects, the five subjects must still include English and then you should have at least two of the five subjects at credit or better. School certificates that are obtained from other countries or foreign qualifications will have to be equated to the local standards.”