24th May 2015
SACCORD statement on voter registration and Issuance of NRCs
Following the update from the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) regarding the voter registration process which the commission intends to start in August 2015, the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) would like to express its concern with the seemingly uncoordinated way of issuing new National Registration Cards (NRCs) and the registration of voters and the apparent scheme between government and the ECZ to disenfranchise some voters during the 2016 elections. We are particularly concerned with the program for registration of voters in that the commission intends to run the exercise between August and October while the issuance of NRCs would not have been done in other areas especially those that are currently perceived as opposition strongholds.
With the recent poor voter turnout, we would have hoped that the commission was going to work closely with the national registration office to ensure that the people issued with new NRCs and eligible to vote are captured. It will defeat efforts being made by stakeholders to improve the numbers of voters turning out to vote when there is a clearly uncoordinated process which also seems to be riddled with political calculations.
We therefore demand that the ECZ and the National Registration office to ensure that all areas of the country are covered with the issuance of NRCs before the voter registration begins. As SACCORD we feel that the current plan will disadvantage other players in the electoral process. What is further worrying is that the exercise is being started in ruling party strongholds while opposition strongholds are being earmarked for the rainy season and also at the time when the registration of voters would have been completed. In order to avoid accusations that the government and the ECZ want to disadvantage opposition areas, there is need to wait until such a time that NRCs are issued in all areas.
SACCORD is concerned that areas that are opposition strongholds are deliberately being put at the end when the registration of voters would have stopped and also in the rain season when people are busy attending to their fields as well as the poor road access as a result of rains. We wonder whether this is one way of the government with collaboration from the ECZ would like to punish certain regions for voting against the ruling PF in the January 2015 presidential elections. We also find this discriminatory and not in the spirit of promoting democracy and a level political playing field.
Until such a time that the process is harmonised to ensure that everyone is given the same opportunities, the exercise will remain questionable and predetermined to disenfranchise other voters in the interest of the ruling party. We expect the ECZ to be above these political calculations being done by the government.