UNITED PARTY FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT Lusaka Provincial Chairman Obvious Mwaliteta says the party will not allow the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to bulldoze its electoral mandate without being accountable to the Zambian people.
Prison Voting came about after the Constitutional Court ordered the Government and the Electoral Commission of Zambia to allow inmates to start voting after Prison Care and Counselling Association Executive Director Godfrey Malembeka successfully sued the Attorney General in the Constitutional Court.
Following the case of Godfrey Malembeka (Prisons Care and Counselling Association – PRISCA) Vs Attorney General and ECZ in which the court held that prisoners’ right to vote should be upheld, and the Commission in fulfilling the ruling was required to undertake Prisoners Voting for 2021 general elections.
Speaking shortly after walking out of a stakeholder meeting on Prison voting yesterday afternoon, Mr. Mwaliteta said it was folly for the ECZ to ignore major stakeholders in the electoral process in coming up with a decision to allow prisoners to vote in the 2021 General Election.
Mr. Mwaliteta said a lot of issues remained unclear on how the ECZ intended to proceed with its plans to have inmates vote during the 2021 tripartite elections owing to the lack of a clear roadmap on how political players would conduct their campaigns in prisons.
“We are not saying that we are opposed to inmates voting in the 2021 elections, but what we are against is them (ECZ) giving us an example that in South Africa it is happening. It can’t work in Zambia because in South Africa the people who appoint the Commission General of Prisons is not the President,” he said.
He wondered how the ECZ would ensure free, fair, and credible 2021 elections if the opposition political parties were not allowed to campaign in prisons while being accused of planning to fane violence in correctional facilities.
“If political parties are not allowed to go and campaign in Chimbokaila, then we are not going to have a polling agent because we need to have a polling agent inside. But, also, suppose the Commissioner-General of the Zambia Correctional Services is given specific instructions by the appointing authority, how are we going to monitor our votes?” asked Mwaliteta.
The Lusaka UPND chief said the Elections body has the mandate to serve the interest of Zambian citizens without whom they wouldn’t have been established.