The United Party for National Development (UPND) has expressed concern over a number of proposals by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) ahead of the 2021 General Elections.
In his letter to ECZ Chief Electoral Officer, Patrick Nshindano, UPND Secretary General, Stephen Katuka cited the high nomination fees, 30 days voter registration period, the voters register, printing of ballots in the United Arab Emirates and the lack of sponsored stakeholder monitors as well as prisoner voting as some of the concerns that need urgent redress.
Mr Katuka said the proposals if implemented will not only disfranchise eligible voters, but also serve as a systematic barrier which has the potential to pose a serious indictment on holding free, fair and credible elections.
“We reject the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) position to hold a 30 days voter registration as doing so will disfranchise many eligible citizens. Our view is that voter registration is supposed to be a continuous process. We reject the proposed nomination fees for the 2021 General Elections in that, in a democracy like ours, all citizens have the right to participate in the elections without systematic barriers like hiking of nominations fees,” the letter read in part.
Mr Katuka further added that the party was not in support of the suggestion by ECZ not to sponsor stakeholders intending to monitor the printing of ballot papers for the 2021 General Elections in Dubai while allowing prisoners to vote posses a serious threat to national democracy.
“We reject an overhaul and complete deletion of the current voters register as the current electoral code provides for continuous registration of voters. We reject the idea to extend voting to prisons as doing so will disadvantage opposition political parties given the security nature of prisons,” the letter further read.
The ECZ has since the disputed 2016 General Election come under fire from political players and stakeholders for its perceived connivance with the ruling PF ahead of what most commentators term a two-horse race between UPND and PF.