SOME Lusaka voters were frustrated on Thursday when they learnt that the polling stations they had registered to vote from were actually out of town.
But the Electoral Commission of Zambia has accused the affected people of not verifying their details during the voter verification exercise.
Alliance for Community Action executive director Laura Miti, posted on her Facebook page that her niece who registered to vote at Chainda Basic in Avondale was told to vote from Chongwe.
“My niece registered to vote at Chainda Primary School but was told that she has to go to Chongwe. Apparently there is a Chainda School in Avondale and one in Chongwe. If your card lists Chainda as the polling District like in the pic, head to Chongwe. If it says Avondale, go to the better known Chainda Primary. Big issue is that many people who thought they were voting from Avondale are stuck. Those who can, are giving each other lifts. If you are driving to Chongwe and have space in your car, please pass by Avondale and give someone a lift,” stated Miti
In a related incident, another voter; Nicole Chipuwe Moyo, said she had registered to vote at the Show Grounds “VIP stand” but found that the polling station was actually in Mongu district.
“My name is Chipuwe, I am a citizen of Zambia and I got this voters card last year and my polling station is supposed to be show grounds VIP stand. We all know where the show ground’s VIP stand is. Can you imagine, I got up this morning to go and vote and I am told that the polling station does not exist or is closed? So why was ECZ issuing this voter’s card to Zambian citizens, Lusaka residents which says that if you can’t vote. Clearly, this means I have been denied my right to vote,” said Moyo.
“I called ECZ, I got their number off Facebook, called them and I was told show grounds VIP stand is in Mongu. How is this even possible? Everybody knows where the show grounds VIP stand is. So I am expected to travel to Mongu to go and vote meanwhile the polling station, we all know where the show grounds was closed. So this means I, a citizen of Zambia, has been denied my right to vote because ECZ decided not to open this polling station. They cannot assist me, I spoke with an ECZ officer, they cannot assist me, I can’t vote. This is not my problem.”
And in response to a question over the incidents during a briefing, Friday, ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano urged citizens to attach seriousness to matters of voter registration and verification.
“Chainda question, I am really glad that you brought that up. The commission did plead with the Zambian people and I am sure colleagues from the media can attest to that during the voter verification exercise. A number of us simply registered and you go and relax. We put out a plea; we put out different platforms, both online as well as the physical. Online we even went further to provide USSD code for you to be able to verify where you registered from. That is basically as simple as a result of not verifying your details on the voters register,” he said.
“So when one registers, you are supposed to go back in the voter verification exercise to see whether where you are voting from is the correct polling station and indeed your details are correct and most of those did not do that hence refranchising themselves. The commission did put out a huge clarion call continuously on this aspect that it’s extremely important, in as much as you would register yourself, you need to verify the details and most did not hence that aspect.”
He urged voters to ensure that they follow the required processes to ensure that they are not disfranchised.
“But the commission also felt duty bound and went beyond that and even provided transport which we were not even obliged to but we said lets assist where we can and ensure that these people go and cast and exercise their right to vote. So I am glad that that has come up. As we proceed, in future years to come during the voter registration and verification exercise, these processes are extremely important, let’s follow them through so that nobody is disfranchised,” said Nshindano.