By Sean Tembo
1. As Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), we have noted with happiness the high appetite among Zambians to actively participate in the selection of national leaders next year, as evidenced by the continued long queues at voter registration centers. It has now become apparent that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is unlikely to register all Zambians that wish to register as voters, by the expiry of the voter registration period in 7 days time.
2. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we wish to call upon the Electoral Commission of Zambia to consider extending the voter registration period by an additional 30 days so as to afford every eligible citizen the opportunity to register as a voter. It must be noted that no Zambian deserves to be disenfranchised on account of administrative or legal encumbrances. Therefore, even if it means amending the Republican Constitution to adjourn the general elections by one month, it shall be done. There shall be no excuse for preventing eligible Zambian citizens who wish to register and vote from doing so.
3. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we wish to take this opportunity to appeal to fellow opposition leaders especially from the UPND and NDC who are in the habit of seeking to micro-manage ECZ to desist from doing so. Like any other institution, the Electoral Commission of Zambia must be given space and fresh air to operate. ECZ should not waste its time fending off insults and innuendo from unscrupulous political leaders whose sole objective is to create a false narrative to help explain their potential electoral loss next year. The duty of any political stakeholder with regard to the electoral process is to provide feedback and advice to the Commission in a sober and mature manner, and not to seek to discredit and belittle the Commission at every available opportunity.
4. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we wish to further advise the PF Government to ensure that ECZ is allocated its full budget to allow it to properly discharge its mandate with regard to the voter registration exercise. It is hypocritical for the PF and its Government to condemn ECZ for the slow voter registration process when they know that they have only released about 60 percent of the approved budgeted funds. ECZ is not in the magic business for it to be able to register voters without financial resources. It requires money to do its job.
Additionally, the PF should be informed that it is in their political interests that ECZ is fully funded and Zambians do not have to line up the whole night to get a voters card. That is because if the voter registration process is made difficult, as it has been so far, the only people who would be willing to spend the whole night on a queue to register as a voter are those who want to kick out the current Government and not those who want to keep it.
Those who want to keep the current Government would not have sufficient zeal to struggle with a cumbersome voter registration process.