Former Electoral Commission of Zambia Director Dan Kalale has questioned the move by the PF to order the Electoral Commission of Zambia to allow thieves, rapists, murders and other culprits in prison to vote.
Last week, Home Affairs Minister Davies Mwila directed the ECZ to allow prisoners to vote in the forthcoming elections.
Bu Mr Kalale wondered how this can work or whether at all it is constitutunal
Writing on his Facebook page, Mr Kalale said under normal circumstances, it was the ECZ that was supposed to make the announcement about prisoners being allowed to vote and not one of the political parties competing in the elections.
Below is what Mr Kalale wrote:
Is it true some Minister has announced that prisoners will vote in the August 11 elections? Having not seen the amended constitution in its totality, could it be that Electoral Commission of Zambia have also not seen it?
In any case, could it be desperation on the part of the PF government? Under normal circumstances, ECZ was the entity that was supposed to make that announcement added to it the public awareness of the change coupled with more information on the modalities of the new dimension in terms of the voting procedures. Will the prisoners be taken to their polling stations or ECZ will create new polling stations in prison precincts by also spelling out safeguard measures put in place to counter possible manipulation?
In my view this is not an easy undertaking that should come as by the way sort of a thing or as on the spur of the moment after thought.
In case this is in the amended constitution, it still doesn’t sit well because ECZ doesn’t seem to have taken that consideration in their preparations of August 11 event. Can ECZ avail to the stakeholders the promulgated subsequent legislation to back up the new provision in the Amended Constitution before they effect the ‘Ministerial directive’?
By the way its not everything that has been touched in the Amended Constitution that should haphazardly take effect without due diligence consideration, ie has the dual citizenship clause been effected? If not then why should a Minister announce that Prisoners will vote without ECZ showing preparedness of the change in the statute?
Meanwhile, Electoral Expert Macdonald Chipenzi has stated that it is erroneous for Mr Mwila who was quoted as having said that the law existed that allows prisoners and detainees to participate in this year’s general elections to make such a public electoral blunder.
Mr Chipenzi said the directives by Mr Mwila to prisoners or detainees with voters’ cards to participate in this year’s General Elections is illegal as it is against the provisions of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016.
“Under section 47 (c) states that “a person shall not be entitled to vote at an election if that person, at the date of the election is in lawful custody or the person’s freedom of movement is restricted under any written law”. Unless this section has been deleted in the Act, the encouragement by the Minister of persons in lawful custody and whose freedom of movement has been restricted to vote in the coming elections is source of electoral confusion, problems and ultimately illegal and challengeable,” Mr Chipenzi said.
“In as much as the law pronounces innocence to a detainee until proven guilty by the courts of law, leaders must learn to respect the laws they have created. In this regard, Therefore, those who are calling for the allowing of detainees and prisoners to participate in elections whilst in lawful custody and when their freedom of movement is restricted must first take recognizance of the existing laws and advocate for their amendments.”