YALI Governance Advisor Isaac Mwanza says it is clear that Home Affairs Minister Davis Mwila has been caught in the culture of not reading or not paying attention to very law that he is part of its enactment in Parliament when he proclaimed that prisoners must get ready to vote.
Mr Mwanza said the Minister’s statement is against the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 which the Hon Minister of Home Affairs was a part to in its enactment in the last sitting of Parliament.
He explained that prisoners will only be allowed to vote when the country manages to change the Bill of Rights through a referendum.
“Zambians must however prepare for a time when the provisions of the the Electoral Process Act forbidding prisoners to vote will become null and void if we manage to change the Bill of Rights which is being subjected to the Referendum alongside the 2016 elections.
“It is clear that the Minister of Home Affairs has been caught in the culture of not reading or not paying attention to the very law that he is part of its enactment in Parliament when he proclaimed that prisoners must get ready to vote when Section 47 (c) of the law is very clear that persons who are in lawful custody or whose freedom of movement is restricted cannot vote in an election,” he said.
Mr Mwanza further appealed to Zambians to vote yes in the referendum so as to enable prisoners vote and enjoy the benefits of the law.
“As a human rights defender, YALI however believes that Zambians must vote YES in the Referendum which will enable prisoners to vote and enjoy the benefits of the law.
“Article 30 of the Bill of Rights states that “all persons are equal before the law and have the right to equal protection and benefit of the law” while Article 34 (2) states that “a person who is held in custody retains that person’s rights and freedoms, except to the extent that a right or freedom is incompatible with being in custody”.
“When Zambians vote YES in the referendum, it will open the question on whether the prisoners right to voter is incompatible with being in a custody, a matter that can only be determined by the Constitutional Court,” he said.