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It’s unfounded to assert mobile NRC registration exercise being implemented selectively – AG

THE Attorney General says the government did not breach any provisions of the constitution by implementing the issuance of National Registration cards.

This is in a matter where Chapter One Foundation has petitioned the Constitutional Court over government’s decision to limit the voter registration for the 2021 elections to one month.

Chapter One Foundation, through its chairperson Fr Cleophas Lungu, has cited ECZ and Attorney General Likando Kalaluka as respondents in the matter seeking an order that the electoral body carries out voter registration throughout the country.

Chapter One Foundation wants the court to compel the state to implement the mobile issuance of NRC throughout the country and an order that carries out continuous voter registration between elections.

In its petition, Chapter One Foundation said government violated the Constitution by implementing the issuance of National Registration Cards in a manner that contravenes the Constitution.

It said according to Article 128 (1)(b) of the Constitution of Zambia, the actions taken by government and ECZ were a violation of the Constitution, therefore the court had jurisdiction to determine the petition.

Chapter One Foundation said under Article 128(3)(b) of the Constitution, the decision made in the exercise of the legislative mandate to register citizens and register voters was unconstitutional.

It stated that government had been implementing issuance of National Registration Cards to citizens pursuant to the National Registration Act chapter 126 of the Laws of Zambia.

Chapter One Foundation said the registration of citizens in line with the national registration Act chapter 126 of the Laws of Zambia had been accelerated by the policy of mobile registration in various parts of the country.

It contended that government whether willingly or unwillingly has not rolled the mobile registration in all parts of the country and further that the registration services were not uniformly available to all citizens.

But Likando Kalaluka in his answer to the petition sworn by Alick Mvula, said apart from the provisions of the national registration Act, chapter 126 of the Laws of Zambia, government had strictly followed and never breached the provisions of the law in the issuance of NRCs.

“The department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship under the Ministry of Home Affairs provides its services in all its offices, in all districts across the country except for some of the newly created districts and that these offices are open throughout the year except for weekends and public holidays,” Kalaluka said.

He submitted that to supplement the services, government implements a mobile registration exercise every after five years to carter for citizens who have attained the age of 16 years but are unable to easily access or present themselves to the nearest district registration offices.

He explained that the mobile registration exercise also carters for citizens who have lost their national registration cards and need replacement of the same.

He added that citizens’ inability to present themselves was attributed to various factors which include distance, terrain, and lack of information.

Mvula argued that prior to the mobile registration exercise, Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo issued a statement in Parliament on how the mobile exercise would be conducted.

“With regards to the current mobile registration exercise, due to unfavourable economic factors currently prevailing in the country, government decided to implement the aforesaid exercise in two phases and when Chapter One Foundation filed its petition, government had allocated 40 days to each province. The first phase commenced on August 1, 2020 in the Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Northern and North Western provinces and was scheduled to end on September 9, 2020, while the second phase was to commence on September 10, 2020 in Central, Copperbelt, Lusaka, Muchinga, Southern and Western,” Kalaluka explained.

He further stated that due to initial challenges in the first 10 days of the first phase, the government extended the first phase to September 19, 2020 and the second phase will commence on September 20, 2020 and that the total number of days for the second phase would be determined by how the exercise would proceed but the same would not be less than 40 days.

Kalaluka charged that it was a misconception to allege that government whether willingly or unwillingly had not rolled out the mobile registration exercise to all parts of the country or that the services were not uniformly available to all citizens.

“It is unfounded to assert that the mobile registration exercise policy is being implemented selectively in a discriminatory manner, undermining human dignity, equity and social justice as race, tribe, sex, religion, marital status, political affiliation or any other discriminatory factor are not taken into consideration when developing an implementation plan,” Kalaluka said.

He submitted that the alleged contraventions of the constitution were mere imaginations or speculations by Chapter One Foundation and it would be put to strict proof over the imaginations.

Kalaluka added that the petitioner was not entitled to any reliefs sought.

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