SKETCHLEY Sacika says it is inconceivable to have a judge in Esau Chulu to preside over the Electoral Commission of Zambia, a legal body that has opted to advance electoral illegalities.
Sacika is a former secretary to cabinet.
He says judge Chulu has let himself down, including those who know him by showing weakness and dishonesty.
He spoke to The Mast in an interview on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (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 on Monday, 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 themselves for 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 from, 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.
Sacika feels the whole idea of online pre-registration is absurd.
“It is incredible that people can come up with that kind of idea. Zambia is essentially not a sophisticated country even in terms of usage of Internet and so on. There are many people, millions of people, who have no access to the Internet,” Sacika said. “How do you expect people in the village, my village, for example, in Mongu to have access to the Internet? The whole idea is absurd!”
He said as far as he knew, there was a law which required ECZ to carry out continuous registration of voters; “meaning that when a person reaches the age of 18, he or she should be registered as a voter automatically.”
Sacika said such law was enacted in 2016.
“The law was enacted after Zambians had demanded that a system of registering voters periodically be abolished because it disenfranchised many would-be voters. That was the basis on which this law was enacted, and many people supported it,” he said. “The decision by the Electoral Commission of Zambia to limit the registration of voters to a period of one month is therefore illegal and must be challenged in the courts of law. The ECZ is a creation of the law and it cannot therefore operate outside the law.”
Sacika noted that: “judge Chulu has let himself down [and] he has also let down all of us who know him.”
“How can a man of the law, a judge for that matter, preside over an organisation which is acting illegally? An organisation which is not respecting the law under which it is created! It is inconceivable, isn’t it?” Sacika said. “It is difficult to understand. How can such a man be chairman of an electoral body which is acting illegally? In the name of what is decent, judge Chulu should resign as the chairman of the Electoral Commission of Zambia.”
He added that if judge Chulu does not resign, he should be dismissed or be relieved of his position.
“He has shown weakness and dishonesty. Judge Chulu should have insisted that the law that requires the continuous registration of voters is respected,” he said. “He should have insisted that the government funds that process. But he has kept quiet!”
Sacika urged opposition political parties to petition the courts to make an order that the registration of voters should be a continuous exercise.
“That’s what they should do, because that is what the law says,” Sacika said.
He regretted that the ECZ was failing to show creativity it its handling of the registration of voters.
“Instead, it is relying on old methods and procedures – methods that I used when I was in the civil service as Cabinet secretary,” Sacika said.
“Before elections you give a period of one month or so to register voters and then you produce an electoral register. [But] that’s an old method. That method has been overtaken by the law that requires that the registration of voters should be continuous.”
Sacika advised the ECZ to come up with new procedures, “instead of relying on old procedures that are no longer applicable to the prevailing conditions.”
He stressed that “young Nshindano and others” must be creative.
“Their objective should be to simplify the registration procedures, so as to enfranchise as many people as possible and not to do the opposite by adopting gimmicks such as online registration which disenfranchise many people,” said Sacika. “This is what I expect young people like Nshindano to be doing. They should be creative! Managing an enterprise like the Electoral Commission of Zambia requires ingenuity, creativity. ‘How do we do things?’ ‘How do we manage the electoral process [like] the registration of voters?’ That’s what they should be doing, instead of relying on old methods. The one-month registration of voters exercise is illegal and it be challenged.”