Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Prisoners in Zambia will only enjoy their right to vote in the next general election-State

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HOME Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu (far right) addresses inmates after commissioning the newly built Mwembeshi Maximum security prison in Mumbwa district
Prisoners at the newly built Mwembeshi Maximum security prison in Mumbwa district

THE State has submitted to the Constitutional Court that prisoners in Zambia will only enjoy their right to vote in the next general election and not the one set for August 11.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has told the court that it cannot establish new polling centres in Zambian correctional facilities as the exercise has already closed.

This was in a petition where Prisons Care and Counseling Association (PRISCCA) executive director Geoffrey Malembeka petitioned the Attorney General and the ECZ to allow eligible inmates to vote in this year’s elections.

Dr Malembeka wanted the court to instruct the Ministry of Home Affairs which is in charge of issuing of National Registration Cards (NRCs) to immediately go into the Zambian correctional facilities and issue NRCs to those eligible to vote.

“ECZ should go into prisons through mobile voter registration and register as voters all prisoners eligible so that they too can vote on August 11,” he stated.

Dr Malembeka argued that all pre-trial remandees in prisons throughout the country were innocent until proven guilty, therefore they should enjoy their constitutional right to vote.

However, Attorney General’s chambers assistant senior State advocate, Murah Kapamba, said the prisoners’ right to vote and register could only be enjoyed in the next general election, as the voter registration, closed on February 29, 2016.

Mr Kapamba, however, submitted that the State did not oppose Dr Malembeka’s petition, because Article 46 of the Constitution permitted every eligible citizen to vote.

ECZ director of elections Chomba Chella said during preparations for this year’s elections, the elections body did not establish polling centres at any prison or detention centre.

Mr Chela said the voter registration was conducted from September 13, last year, to February 29, this year, after which, the exercise closed in readiness for the certification of the voter register.

He said that voters’ cards had already been issued to those eligible to vote and the ECZ could not register new voters as the exercise had already ended.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Whats the point of going to prison? If prisoners start voting…incompetent leaders like Lazy Lungu will be misusing the powers of pardoning even more for political mileage!!

  2. This is madness. A prison is the most vulnerable place for rigging and cohesion. Let alone giving voting power to convicts is just insane

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