State has strictly followed the Constitution in mobile registration exercise – Mvula

THE State has argued that it has strictly followed the provisions of the Constitution in implementing the mobile registration exercise and in the issuance of National Registration Cards and has abided by the National Registration Act Chapter 126 of the Laws of Zambia.

Alick Mvula, a deputy Registrar General in the Department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship under the Ministry of Home Affairs, says any provincial authority is free to request the Registrar General for the department to conduct a targeted mobile registration exercise at its own cost.

This is in a matter where Chapter One Foundation limited 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 Fr 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 would 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 was unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

In an affidavit in support of the answer to the amended petition, the state said the department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship provides its services in all its offices in all the districts across the country except for some of the newly created districts and that the offices were open throughout the year except for weekends and public holidays.

Mvula said that citizens who have attained the age of 16 were required to present themselves at the nearest district registration office for the purpose of being registered as provided for in the Laws of Zambia.

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

Mvula said the mobile registration exercise also caters for citizens who have lost their NRCs and need replacement of the same.

He stated that prior to the commencement of the mobile registration exercise, Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo issued a ministerial statement in Parliament on how the exercise would be conducted
Mvula said with regard to the current mobile registration exercise, due to unavoidable economic factors currently prevailing in the country, government decided to implement the said exercise in two phases and had, at the date of the filing of the petition by Chapter One Foundation allocated 40 days to each province.

” The first phase commenced on August 1, 2020 in the Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Northern and North Western provinces . The phase was scheduled to end on September 9, 2020 while the second phase was to commence on September 10, 2020 in the remaining provinces; central, Copperbelt, Lusaka, Muchinga, Southern and Western,” Mvula said.

He stated that due to some challenges in the first 10 days of the first phase, government extended the first phase to September 19, 2020 and the second phase commenced on September 20, 2020.

Mvula said the total number of days for the second phase would be determined by how the exercise would proceed but the same would never be less than 49 days which was the minimum number of days as pronounced by Kampyongo in Parliament.

“When determining how the current mobile registration exercise would be conducted, the provincial and district administration authorities in all the provinces were engaged by the Ministry of Home Affairs and through the engagement, the Ministry of Home Affairs was able to develop a plan to effectively and efficiently register as many citizens as possible throughout the country,” said Mvula. “That in between the mobile registration exercise or cycles, any provincial authority may, at its own cost, request the registrar general for the department to conduct a targeted mobile Registration exercise.”

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