[By Mable Tabaak]
SOCIALIST Party Malole Constituency candidate Margaret Pikiti has called upon the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to increase the laptops, manpower and even extend the period for voter registration.
Featuring on Diamond TV recently, Pikiti said, “Looking at the situation, I think the time is not adequate”.
“I don’t know how many people are registered to date considering the long queues and the time it is taking. I think they need more manpower to speed up the registration. They should also think of extending the period for registration,” she said. “Also extending hours can only work in certain areas. Where I come from in Malole in Northern Province, I have travelled the place far and wide. It is very rural. There is no power (electricity) so the ECZ officers will probably use batteries with the laptops. But people cannot start walking back in the dark. People in Lusaka drive and go back home with the extended hours but it will be very difficult for people in rural areas to do the same. Definitely it’s much more manpower that is needed.”
Pikiti said she had been in Lusaka for the last few days and had seen the queues at registration centres.
“Just on Sunday, I went with my family, sisters to try and register. We found some people coming out and said they had been there for seven hours and at the time, and were only leaving at 16:00 hours. We entered the place and the queue was still very long,” she said. “It’s quite disheartening. There was only one ECZ lady official who was attending to the people registering with one laptop despite a very long queue. The laptops don’t cost much, one car can fund the whole country, they don’t cost much.”
Pikiti said despite the challenges, Zambians should not sit back.
“We need to have a say. We need to build justice, equity and peace and improve our people’s live,” she said. “We could have at least three or more people taking the details but actually there is just one person and people have had to wait for hours to be registered. While this may probably discourage people a little bit, I urge people not to be discouraged because our country is not really going in the right path. We need to be able to have a say in what happens ourselves, our families, our children and the generation to come.”
Pikiti also shared experiences of the people in Malole Constituency.
“I come from Malole. There the situation is a bit different. In Lusaka, people might be able to catch a bus and go line up to register. In Malole, I know people would be walking long distances and I don’t know how they would manage to walk distances, sit in the queues for long hours,” she said. “It is a challenge to even get water to drink, food, and then to have to walk long distances back home. A lot of people don’t even have bicycles.”
Pikiti said there was need for the country to consider and empathise with the plight of rural communities.
“If people have to walk distances to go and register it needs to be a little bit faster. What I have seen so far in Lusaka is disheartening because I am now concerned about my constituency and how people will manage to walk long distances,” she said.
And Pikiti said the Socialist Party’s plans would benefit Malole.
“I have been very encouraged to stand under the Socialist Party because Malole is very rural and very poor. When I came into contact with the manifesto of the Socialist Party, I realised that the manifesto and plans of the Socialist Party is going to benefit the people of Malole,” she said. “I see the struggles of the people. I see the struggles in every area, just food, health, education and even just managing the day-to-day lives. When I came into contact with the Socialist Party’s manifesto and I had a conviction that it can really benefit the people of Malole because the focus of the party is to work with the poor and improve their lives.”