Govt will never discriminate any area in NRC issuance – Wina

VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina says the National Registration Office is considering to go back to register people that may have missed out during the mobile issuance of NRCs.

During the Vice-President’s Question Time in Parliament yesterday, Bweengwa UPND member of parliament Michelo Kasauta said the PF, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, were already in the process of rigging the 2021 elections looking at how the people of Lusaka, Southern and Western provinces were denied opportunities to obtain National Registration Cards.

“Now your Honour the Vice-President, don’t you think the Zambian people are not going to allow, they are not going to accept if the PF are going to be announced that they have won the 2021 general elections because we the people of Southern Province, Lusaka, Western were denied NRCs, so they are not even able to register in large numbers so that we also participate in 2021 general election?”

But Vice-President Wina said Kasauta’s remarks were not correct.

She said the PF government was not discriminating against any province.

“I wish to reiterate that this government will never discriminate any of its areas. The registration office is considering to go back to register those that may have missed out during the mobile issuance of NRCs,” she said. “So the Ministry [of Home Affairs] is doing an assessment currently of where the need is and what the cost will be. When the money is secured, their registration team will go back to those areas. And in view of the above, I am discouraging members of parliament from ferrying people to NRC issuance centres as this will put undue pressure on the officers at those centres.”

Vice-President Wina said it was important that COVID-19 guidelines were observed as people go to obtain NRCs.

But Mufumbwe member of parliament Eliot Kamondo said it was an undisputable fact that the ECZ had failed Zambians over the voter registration exercise.

He said in his constituency, some failures were that sometimes registration officers run out of inks and the gadgets fail and need reactivation.

Kamondo wanted to find out whether the government was considering increasing the registration period from 30 to 60 days.

Vice-President Wina responded that the ECZ timely replaces any gadgets that develop faults.

She also said engineers were at registration centres to attend to smaller repairs on the spot to ensure the machines operated at maximum efficiency.

“As to the extension of time, I’ve been informed that ECZ will observe how registration goes and ECZ believes that it will reach the required numbers before the end of the exercise and at the end of the exercise an assessment will be done as to whether there is need to increase the number of days or not,” she explained.

Liuwa’s Situmbeko Musokotwane thanked Vice-President Wina for indicating that issuance of NRCs would resume.

However, Dr Musokotwane expressed concern over variations observed in the NRC issuance exercise.

“In one province, the performance, I think was at 181 per cent or thereabout, that’s Luapula, and then the Western Province, the performance is only 52 per cent. So what guarantee can you give that the factors that caused these big variations are not going to repeat themselves in the next phase so that those who have already done very well continue to do better and those who did badly will be drifted upwards? What caused these variations and how are you going to resolve it?” asked Dr Musokotwane.

Vice-President Wina in response said the government was addressing the challenges before registration teams go back in the field.

Luampa’s Makozo Chikote expressed worry that the voter registration exercise is almost coming to an end and many areas were left out of the mobile NRC issuance exercise.

“You have discouraged members of parliament who are assisting people who stay very far to come to the BOMA to get NRCs, you have said you are discouraging that. So how are you going to assist our people who have not been given the chance to enjoy the national cake which others have enjoyed?” asked Chikote.

Vice-President Wina responded that issuance of NRCs would be done during the period of voter registration.

She explained that the reason for discouraging ferrying of many people to registration centres was that they were overwhelming the system.

“So I still discourage members of parliament to bring multitudes of people to assemble at registration centre because the facilities are not available to support such crowds and also pressure on the workers – they sometimes even feel intimidated when things like these happen,” Vice-President Wina said.

But Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu asked Vice-President Wina whether she was aware that for the last three days, most registration centres have not been working because passwords for the computers being used had expired and ECZ was grappling to redress the situation.

Mwiimbu noted that the third phase had only three days to end.

“Do you honestly believe, your honour the Vice-President, that this exercise is running smoothly and that they will be able to capture the requisite number of voters within the 30-days period that the ECZ indicated?” asked Mwiimbu to which she said the government was not aware of the expired passwords.

Chimwemwe member of parliament Elias Mwila noted that long queues have continued to characterise voter registration in Kitwe and Chimwemwe.

He advised the government to advise the ECZ to allow all registration centres in Kitwe to operate up to 22:00 hours and place a 24-7 registration centre in every constituency.

Mongu Cnetral’s Mwilola Imakando asked whether the government would allow donations of electricity generators to speed up the process in Mongu since the exercise was being slowed down by load-shedding.

The Vice-President said the government was delighted to hear a voice from a generous individual.

She advised Imakando to get in touch with ECZ to see what help he would render.

Meanwhile, Chifubu PF member of parliament Frank Ng’ambi asked the Vice-President whether the commissioning of the 750 megawatts Kafue Gorge Lower power plant would end load-shedding.

Vice-President Wina acknowledged that the country had been experiencing load-shedding since June 2019.

She also said demand for electricity had been steadily increasing due to a growing economy.

She said the country was currently experiencing an electricity deficit of around 810 megawatts.

Vice-President Wina said there were a number of projects being implemented to mitigate the current power deficit.

“One of the notable projects is the construction of the 750 megawatts Kafue Gorge Lower power station and before the year 2020, two machines will be commissioned which will result into 300 megawatts integrated into the national grid. Additionally, Mr Speaker, 450 megawatts is expected to be integrated into the national grid during the year 2021,” she explained.

Vice-President Wina said the coming on board of the Kafue Gorge Lower would greatly contribute to the reduction of the current load-shedding being experienced.

Lufwanyama member of parliament Leonard Fungulwe said two feeder roads, Mukutuma – Lumpuma and Fungulwe roads, were earmarked for rehabilitation.

He said the contractors for the two roads mobilised using own resources and that the government has not paid them.

“As I am talking now, these two contractors have demobilised from the sites. So I would like to find out; this is the rain season, these roads will be impassable…when are you paying these contractors so that they go back to the sites and continue with the works?” asked Fungulwe.

The Vice-President in response said most contractors working on rural roads have been paid.

She said the contractors should be told to go back to the sites.

“This effort should also come from the member of parliament to visit the ministry responsible, in this case, Ministry of Local Government, to ensure the contractor is traced and goes back to do his work. Asking these questions in Parliament will not help us to get the process going,” she said.

Vice-President Wina urged Fungulwe to establish why the contractor had not reported even after being paid by the government.

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