THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says continuous voter registration has already been planned for and is provided for under the 2022 budget.
A Consortium of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) recently urged the commission to embark on continuous voter registration saying any potential voter should have the right to register to vote at any time, as opposed to there being a restricted period for the registration.
But responding to a press query, ECZ corporate affairs manager Patricia Luhanga said the Commission had scheduled engagement meetings with various stakeholders to update them on among other things, the Commission’s plans for continuous voter registration in 2022 and beyond.
“We would like to confirm that we have received correspondence from a consortium of Civil Society Organisations regarding continuous voter registration. The Commission would like to advise that continuous voter registration has already been planned for and is provided for under the 2022 budget and that we have scheduled engagement meetings with various stakeholders who include political parties, Civil Society Organisations and Media to update them on among other things, the Commission’s plans for continuous voter registration for 2022 and beyond. The meetings will take place next week and the Commission has since started sending out invitation notices to stakeholders,” said Luhanga.
Chapter One Foundation executive director Linda Kasonde, on behalf of the other CSOs, noted that a voter should be allowed to go to an ECZ office to register as a voter on any working day of the year.
“On or about 12th June 2020, the Chief Electoral Officer of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (“ECZ”), Mr. Patrick Nshindano, issued a statement to the effect that the period for voter registration relating to the 2021 general election had been reduced to 30 days. Mr Nshindano stated that it is the function of the Commission to conduct the voters’ registration process in line with section 4 (2) (d) of the Electoral Commission Act No. 25 of 2016 which mandates the Commission to supervise and conduct the registration of voters. On or about 15th December 2020, the voter registration process was extended for a further four days. However, section 7 of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 states: ‘The Commission shall conduct a continuous registration of voters’,” stated Kasonde.
“It is our understanding that continuous voter registration means that any potential voter should have the right to register to vote at any time, as opposed to there being a restricted period for voter registration. This means that a voter should be allowed to go to an ECZ office to register as a voter on any working day of the year. It is our position that ECZ only retains the power to set the cut-off point for creating the voters’ roll in an election.”