THERE is need to adjust electoral boundaries to ensure that all the new districts have at least one constituency and also realign the boundaries of wards and constituencies that may have been affected by the creation of the new districts, says Electoral Commission of Zambia chairperson justice Esau Chulu
Launching the 2019 delimitation exercise yesterday, justice Chulu said ECZ had been preparing for the exercise for more than a year now.
He said delimitation was one of the constitutional functions of the Commission and, therefore, one of the key milestones in the electoral process.
“This process is important as it is a basis for promoting effective citizens’ representation, Voter Registration and making electoral services more accessible and closer to the people. The Commission under Article (58) (5) of the Republican Constitution and Section 21 of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 has a mandate to divide the country into constituencies, wards and polling districts for the purposes of conducting elections,” justice Chulu said. “The law provides that delimitation be conducted at intervals of not more than 10 years. You may recall that the Commission conducted reviews of constituency boundaries in 2010 and later in 2014 which resulted in an increase in the number of wards from 1,422 to 1,624 and from 6,456 to 7,700 polling districts nationwide. Further, the constitutional amendment No 2 of 2016 increased the number of constituencies from 150 to the current 156.”
He said ECZ was scheduled to undertake delimitation of constituencies, wards and polling districts from July to November.
Chulu said the delimitation exercise would involve engaging various stakeholders to review the existing electoral boundaries.
“In addition to the creation and renaming of constituencies, wards and polling districts, the process will also involve establishing new polling stations where necessary. During the conduct of the delimitation exercise, several factors are taken into consideration which include: an increase in population, the long distances that voters cover to access electoral services, developmental and new settlement patterns,” he said. “You may be aware that more than 30 districts across the country have been created in the last eight years, thereby increasing the total number of districts to 116. This development has resulted in the revision of some of the district boundaries to pave way for the new districts. There is, therefore, need to adjust electoral boundaries to ensure that all the new districts have at least one constituency and also to realign the boundaries of wards and constituencies that may have been affected by the creation of the new districts.”
Chulu said the exercise would entail appropriate amendments to the relevant legislation and issuance of statutory instruments.
He said it was the commission’s belief and hope that all citizens will support the exercise to ensure that it was all encompassing.
“The delimitation exercise which begins on Monday 8th July, 2019 is a nation-wide exercise that will be undertaken in all provinces and districts throughout the country. During the district and provincial sittings the Commission will receive submissions from members of the public and all stakeholders,” said Chulu.