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Voter exercise is not unconstitutional – ECZ

THE Electoral Commission of Zambia says it has not breached the Constitution by restricting the voter registration exercise to one month.

This is in a matter where Chapter One Foundation has petitioned the Constitutional Court over the decision by the Electoral Commission of Zambia to limit the voter registration for the 2021 elections to one month.

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

The NGO is seeking a declaration that the geographical limitation to the issuance of National Registration Cards would result in the disenfranchisement of many Zambians in contravention of national values and was therefore unconstitutional.

Chapter One Foundation is seeking a declaration that the limitation of the period within which voter registration will be conducted to 30 days was unconstitutional.

It wants the court to direct that the State implements the mobile issuance of NRCs throughout the country and that ECZ carries out continuous voter registration between elections.

The NGO is further seeking a declaration that ECZ’s decision and intention to stop currently registered voters from voting in the 2021 general elections and future elections is unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

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

“The State, whether willingly or unwillingly, has not rolled the mobile registration in all parts of the country and the registration services are not uniformly available to all citizens,” Chapter One Foundation said. “ECZ has violated the Constitution by deciding to conduct voter registration for next year’s elections over a period of 30 days. Section 10 of the electoral process Act number 35 of 2016 sets out the grounds on which ECZ can deregister a registered voter.”

But in its answer to the petition, ECZ denied violating any provision of the Constitution as the registration of voters and prescription of the cut off dates with respect to the registration of voters and the compilation of the voter register was prescribed under the electoral process Act no.35 of 2016.

ECZ stated that it was in line with its statutory mandate of maintaining and compiling the voters’ register and required registered voters to verify their details.

“The said verification involves capturing of a registered voter’s biometrics, portraits and other relevant details in line with the Electoral Process (registration of voters) Regulations Statutory Instrument no. 80 Of 2020. That in any event the electoral process Act requires that ECZ certify the voters’ register for purposes of the 2021 general elections,” ECZ said.

It said the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act no.2 of 2016 does not provide for the continuous registration of voters as alleged.

ECZ said it was mandated to implement the electoral process and conduct elections.

It added that in the performance of its functions, it is guided by relevant electoral laws including the Constitution of Zambia Act no.25 of 2016 and Regulations Promulgated under the said laws.

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