HARRY Kalaba says the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s online pre-registration platform is a mockery to Zambia’s electoral process, but typical of the PF.
On Monday, the ECZ launched www.ovr,elections.org.zm where eligible voters (18 years and above) can pre-register for 46 days, from September 21, 2020 to November 6, 2020.
Speaking during the launch of the online pre-registration exercise in Lusaka, ECZ chief elections officer Patrick Nshindano said the process was not final.
He clarified that users would be subjected to a final stage where they would physically present identification.
Nshindano explained that people who would register during the online pre-registration period would have exclusive centres where they would collect their voters’ cards, once the ordinary mobile registration commences next month.
Ordinary mobile registration is scheduled to run for 34 days, from October 28, 2020 to November 30, 2020.
Operating hours at the various registration centres would be 07:00 hours to 18:00 hours.
Called for a comment on the online pre-registration exercise, Kalaba, the opposition Democratic Party (DP) president, said: “our worry is that we are seeing a situation where nine-year-olds, 10-year-olds are getting NRCs.”
“What PF is going to do is that they are going to use this online voter registration exercise to begin registering [as voters] those fictitious people they are issuing with NRCs. They start doing that and eventually help the process of wanting to manipulate the electoral system,” Kalaba said.
“Secondly, I don’t think there are many people who are on the Internet in these compounds and in the rural areas. [This] means that many people will be squeezed.”
He said he went to meet Nshindano, over the same, on Friday last week.
“I went to the ECZ over the same issue of online pre-registration of voters and the period they have given for registration of voters. Clearly, the ECZ doesn’t have the capacity to register all these millions of people within 30 days,” he noted.
“He told me that they will be operating from 06:00 hours to 18:00 hours and that anybody who goes to register will not be chased. But even with that, we are going into the rainy season and people will be going to farm.”
Kalaba said a longer period should have been allocated for mobile voter registration.
“But typical of the PF, they have trivialised this process and you’ll find that many people will be disenfranchised as a result of the way the process is being handled. It is not really impressive, to say the least. There’s a problem!” Kalaba complained.
“Yesterday (Monday) I was doing it (pre-registration) in Chipata and the system is not even as easy as they want to portray it.”
He added that the launched online pre-registration involved back-and-forth questions.
“In the process, how many people are going to follow through those stages?” asked Kalaba. “So, it’s a mockery to our electoral process, but typical of the PF. What do you expect from them? It’s a cumbersome government trying to produce a cumbersome [electoral] system. That’s the challenge we have.”