THE Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) has called on Electoral Commission of Zambia to listen to concerns of all stakeholders to build consensus and reduce on conflicts ahead of the 2021 general elections.
Commenting on the ongoing voter registration, executive director Leah Mitaba said dialogue with all stakeholders was cardinal in resolving some of the challenges that ECZ is facing.
Mitaba recognised the tremendous efforts that ECZ had put in the voter registration exercise.
“In particular, we are delighted with the extension of registration hours to 24 hours in some places and the boosting of human resource at the registration centres. These changes will help in moving towards reaching the target of nine million voters,” she said. “As an umbrella organisation with membership throughout the country, we have taken snap surveys in some registration centres and our findings point to variety of issues that have charactersied this exercise. Of course the initial one is the fact that the process has commenced at a relatively good pace despite the early teething problems.”
Mitaba said in far off places like Chinsali in Muchinga Province, members were reporting good turnout at registration centres, especially during the evening hours of the day.
She said similarly, in Mufulira and Kitwe districts, the exercise was moving in the right direction.
“However, we still note with concern that issues of breakdown of machinery at registration centres remain prevalent in most parts of the country raising fears that the country will not meet its targeted number of voters,” she said. “ECZ should consider extending days in areas that have experienced such breakdown of machinery. In the same, vein, we wish to encourage the election body to increase the number of 24-hour run centres.”
Mitaba said in Monze district for instance, there were cases of poor internet connectivity for those who had pre-registered online.
She said this had resulted in overcrowding at some centres.
Mitaba also cautioned those who have registered against posting their full details on social media.
“This is risky as these details are vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous people in this technological age. It is clear from our findings that ECZ needs the support of all stakeholders to achieve the targeted number of voters. In this vein, we urge our members countrywide to encourage more people to register as voters,” she said. “Meanwhile, we call on ECZ to listen to concerns of all stakeholders for us to build consensus and therefore reduce on conflicts ahead of the 2021 general elections. Dialogue with all stakeholders is cardinal in resolving some of the challenges that ECZ is facing.”