ACTING Chief Government Spokesperson Stephen Kampyongo says the UPND should know the limitations in which they can express themselves to international organisations regarding the registration of voters.

Commenting on a letter written by UPND president Hakainde Hichilema to the African Union and SADC over the “unfair conduct” of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) in the voters registration process, Kampyongo, who is also acting information minister, complained that government found the letter irrational and disturbing as the electoral process had been highly consultative.

“Government finds irrational and disturbing reports in some sections of the media that the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) has written to the African Union (AU) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to complain about a process that has been highly consultative. The preparation of a voters’ register, which the UPND leader Mr Hakainde Hichilema is complaining about to the international community, is a process that the ECZ has been undertaking without leaving anyone behind,” Kampyongo said in a statement, Wednesday.

“Political parties; Civil Society Organisations and both national and international collaborating partners have been involved in this process from inception. Government believes that the preparation of the voters’ register has been conducted in an exceptionally transparent manner and that there are sufficient local grievance resolution avenues that anyone who has a problem with the process can use to be heard and be assisted.”

He urged Hichilema to desist from “exciting” his party members unnecessarily and instead concentrate on mobilising his supporters to verify their details in the voters register.

“The UPND ought to know the limitations of international stakeholders in how far they can go in expressing themselves on local matters like registration of voters. It is apparent that the UPND has already smelled another election loss and has now started preparing grounds to justify their loss once pronounced after the August 12 Presidential and General Election. Government wishes to appeal to Mr Hichilema to desist from exciting his party members unnecessarily and, instead, concentrate on mobilising his supporters to verify their details in the voters’ register,” said Kampyongo.

In his letter, Hichilema said the ECZ validated electoral roll indicated that the number of registered voters in provinces which strongly favoured PF had increased.

“Dear African Union Chairperson HE President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo and SADC Chairperson HE President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi. We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the outcome of the recent voter registration process in Zambia ahead of the general elections scheduled for 12 August 2021. Based on the figures presented by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), it appears that concerns that the new electoral roll was not developed in a fair and impartial manner have been validated,” Hichilema said.

“This is most clearly seen in the fact that the number of voters registered in provinces that voted strongly in favour of the incumbent Patriotic Front party in 2016 have increased significantly. Meanwhile, the number of voters from provinces viewed as traditional opposition strongholds have seen substantial decreases. The registration process, which took place in November and December 2020, was highly contested.”

He called on the AU and SADC not to legitimise the election because the voters’ roll had been compromised.

“There were previously concerns around the mobile National Registration Card (NRC) exercise that proceeded the voter registration period, as citizens must have a valid NRC card to register as a voter. Oversight of the process was compromised in August 2020 when the Ministry of Home Affairs disbanded organisations which were monitoring the exercise. In its current state we believe the new voters roll threatens to undermine the credibility of the August 2021 elections and paves the way for election disputes before the campaign period has even begun,” said Hichilema.

“We also believe it violates the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) and the OAU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa. We therefore call upon Your Excellencies, to: Ensure the AU and SADC does not legitimize an election based on a compromised voters roll. (2) Advocate for an independent audit of the new register to ensure the upcoming elections are credible and support public confidence in the process. (3) Support an extension to the voter registration to ensure eligible Zambians are not disenfranchised come 12 August 2021.”