The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says it has recorded 1, 598,426 voters in the just ended phase two of the ongoing voter registration exercise bringing the total number of registered voters to 2, 704,426.
ECZ Chief Electoral Officer, Kryticous Nshindano said the increase represents a 44 percent rise due to the measures the electoral body has put in place.
Mr. Nshindano said the Commission expects to see an exponential increase in the number of registered voters that will be captured in the remaining two phases.
He attributed the expected high numbers to the increased staffing levels and registration kits at the various registration centers across the country.
Addressing journalists at a media briefing at ECZ in Lusaka today, Mr. Nshindano cautioned the general public not to pay attention to figures being circulated on social media as they are misleading.
He pointed out that currently, it is not possible to accurately give voter registration figures according to regions because people are registering from anywhere in the country but with their preferred voting localities.
Mr. Nshindano maintained that ECZ is the only recognized authority to give credible statistics and data relating to voter registration and other electoral activities.
He apologized to the general public for the registration kits that had shut down all over the country affecting the ongoing voter registration process as some ECZ registration officers failed to log in.
“Allow me to also apologise for the inconvenience experienced yesterday in selected centers across the country due to the automatic log out feature on the kits. Some of our officers were unable to log into the system hence delaying the commencement time,” explained Mr Nshindano.
He said the registration kits logged out on November 26 as they were preset to do that on that date as the end date of the voter registration before the postponement and could not be overridden until the expiry.
Mr Nshindano stressed that the shutdown of the registration kits is a security measure to stop anyone from manipulating the kits once the registration of voters ends.
He stated that the registration kits will shut down on December 12, 2020 to signal the end of the voter registration exercise and that no one will be able to log in and temper with the kits in as far as trying to register more voters after the stipulated end date of December 12.
Mr Nshindano stated that the electoral body has no plans to extend the ongoing voter registration exercise and remained hopeful that the projected voters will be captured.
“We have no intentions on our part as the Commission to extend the period for registration of voters. That decision will be reviewed when the voter registration is done,” said Mr Nshindano.
He said extending the registration period may affect other electoral processes such as publication, verification, certification of the voters register which needs to be used during the nominations for the various elective positions set for the 2021 general elections.
Mr Nshindano admitted that the turnout for voter registration has been overwhelming and commended the general public for their patience and cooperation.
He urged people to continue going to various voter registration centers across the country and get registered in order to participate in the 2021 general elections.
Mr Nshindano cautioned the general public against double registration stating that the electoral body has put in place mechanisms that detect multiple registration.
He disclosed that all civic centers across the country have been designated as 24 hour voter registration centers, with Lusaka having nine of such centers.
Mr Nshindano assured the general public of adequate security at voter registration centers and that the police were on standby to quell any violent occurrences.
Mr Nshindano said ECZ is aware of various political parties especially the ruling PF and opposition UPND ferrying cadres and people to register as voters.
He said the electoral body has engaged both parties to ensure that the transporting cadres and other people to register does not affect people who are already queued up at the various registration centers.
Mr Nshindano disclosed that government has to date released about K470 million towards the Commission’s budget of K672 million for the ongoing voter registration exercise.
He assured the general public and stakeholders that the voter registration card being issued has higher security features compared to the 2016 voter’s card.
Mr Nshindano announced that voter registration for inmates across the country will be conducted in the fourth phase during the week ending December 12, 2020.
He urged the general public to ensure that they observe Ministry of Health guidelines on the COVID-19 pandemic so as not to spread the pandemic.