Thursday, January 21, 2010
By Agness Changala
Thu 21 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
CITIZENS Forum executive director Simon Kabanda has observed that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has not followed the law that was passed in 2000 on continuous voter registration.
In an interview at the on-going meeting in Lusaka where ECZ is meeting various stakeholders ahead of the 2011 general elections, Kabanda expressed concern on ECZ's usage of the word “continuous” in the voter registration, saying the exercise was not continuous but periodic because it would take 90 days.
“One reservation we have is where the ECZ is using the word continuous registration of voters, it is not continuous but periodic,” Kabanda said. “The law says, it is supposed to be continuous registration of voters' cards and continuous means Monday, Tuesday to Friday and January to December, that's continuous. So when you take 90 days, it's not continuous.”
However, he said it was a good practice for ECZ to call stakeholders for the meeting so that they could participate and talk about their expectations as civil society organisations (CSOs) because they were always on the ground and knew what happened.
Kabanda appealed to the government to provide adequate funding because ECZ had indicated that it was constrained by inadequate funding.
“So we want to appeal to the government to be serious on this issue of elections and the government should show the seriousness by ensuring that there's adequate funding for ECZ to conduct the exercise,” he said.
Kabanda advised ECZ to call for a meeting between the politicians and CSOs because they had issues to raise with them regarding the elections.
“It is not enough to meet us separately because we know that politicians also have issues to raise and we also in CSO's have issues to raise with them,” Kabanda said.
And Operation Young Vote president Guess Nyirenda said the step ECZ had taken would ensure transparency in their operations.
He said this was important because of the organisation's mandate to manage the electoral process in Zambia.
Nyirenda said it was important for stakeholders involved in the process to get concerned from the onset and continue to monitor and evaluate ECZ at every stage.
Global Justice Zambia executive director John Phiri said the government should make documents like the passport and drivers' licence valid for one to register as a voter because no such documents were obtained without the National Registration Card (NRC).
He said this would improve voter turnout in the next elections.
Phiri also warned politicians using young people to promote violence that they risked being de-campaigned.
He expressed concern at the growing tendency by politicians to put pressure on youths to fuel violence.
“We must focus on voter registration and not violence and as Global Justice Zambia we won't hesitate to inform the electorate not to vote for such political parties,” he said.
“I am actually disappointed with the police for not acting on the youth threatening violence and we are also questioning their integrity.”
Phiri said as a youth, he wanted to see such youths being brought to book because the violence being perpetuated was not good for the 2011 election preparations.