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Friday, September 17, 2021

CSOs raise concerns over the new standard operating procedures for Monitoring the August 12 Elections

Headlines CSOs raise concerns over the new standard operating procedures for Monitoring the...

The Civil Society Organisations represented by ActionAid Zambia, Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) and GEARS Initiative Zambia have raised concerns on the new measures introduced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) outlining the way the monitoring of the August 12 Elections.

In a statement released to the media by ActionAid Zambia’s Country Director, Nalucha Ziba Nganga, on behalf of others, the CSOs said that the process of accrediting local monitors is cumbersome and costly as each monitor is required to submit a certified copy of national registration card (NRC) and three copies of the declaration of compliance as it inhibitive and must be discarded.

The CSOs called up ECZ to revise the accreditation process, reduce the red tapes and guidelines in order to help in upholding the integrity of the electoral process, promote transparency and ensure that all key stakeholders contribute effectively to the electoral process.

Below is the full statement

STATEMENT ON NEW ACCREDITATION GUIDELINES FROM THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF ZAMBIA

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) recently issued an election monitor and observer accreditation notice and standard operating procedures limiting the number of observers and monitors to be accredited per organization in all constituencies due to the Covid-19 situation in the country. For instance, the ECZ has limited the number of local monitors to be allowed at any time per organization to access some facilities to one only.

Political parties and CSOs are expected to each have 2 accredited polling station-based monitors/agents of which the only one is expected to go in at any given time. The ECZ is also demanding that local observers and monitors need to provide proof of registration (certificate of registration/incorporation from Registrar of Societies) indicating that the organization has been in existence for the past three years and evidence of having worked in the Governance sector for the past three years.

We the undersigned Civil Society organizations are of the view that measures put in place have the potential to negatively influence the electoral process and the outcome of the election and ultimately compromise the credibility of an election. Even amidst Covid-19, the Electoral Commission of Zambia must seek to balance the potential health risk and the risk and impact of having an election with compromised credibility. Election observation is not the only key in improving the quality of elections but also in building public confidence in the honesty and credibility of electoral processes.

We observe that in the accreditation notice issued, ECZ is limiting the number of people to be accredited per organization in all constituencies. ECZ may wish to note that constituencies are not homogeneous as some are very vast. It will therefore be time-consuming and costly for political parties, CSOs/FBOs, Independent Candidates to deploy a limited number of monitors and observers to cover an entire constituency. As a result, it will affect the effectiveness of carrying out this important responsibility.

We, therefore, recommend that the ECZ leave it to organizations (Political parties/Independent Candidates, CSOs/FBOs and Media) to decide on the number of persons to be accredited in the Constituencies to be part of specific election activities based on their resources and election monitoring strategy. This is so, especially that only a specific number will be allowed to access the facility at a particular time in adherence to the Covid-19 SOPs. ECZ should also consider increasing the number of monitors expected to be at a particular polling station/tallying center from one to two per organization, especially that they are only expected to be at a particular facility (polling station/tallying/Counting center) for a limited period. Two people will improve the ability to observe any anomaly or issues as opposed to one.

We also note that the process of accrediting local monitors is cumbersome and costly as each monitor is required to submit a certified copy of national registration card (NRC) and three copies of declaration of compliance. The demand for certified copies of registration certificates for organization is inhibitive and must be discarded. ECZ can do vetting using its own system. In any case most of the NGOs monitoring elections are in their system or data base and this may have been directed to new entrants in the monitoring process This is a departure from the previous requirement where monitors were only required to submit uncertified copies of NRCs and one copy of declaration of compliance. We are of the view that the ECZ reverts to the previous requirements for accrediting local monitors and demand a fair engagement of the local stakeholders.

Furthermore, the three years existence of an organizations and working in the governance sector requirement may be a hindrance to the participation of most organizations especially CBOs, social movements and ind

STATEMENT ON NEW ACCREDITATION GUIDELINES FROM THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF ZAMBIA

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) recently issued an election monitor and observer accreditation notice and standard operating procedures limiting the number of observers and monitors to be accredited per organization in all constituencies due to the Covid-19 situation in the country. For instance, the ECZ has limited the number of local monitors to be allowed at any time per organization to access some facilities to one only.

Political parties and CSOs are expected to each have 2 accredited polling station-based monitors/agents of which the only one is expected to go in at any given time. The ECZ is also demanding that local observers and monitors need to provide proof of registration (certificate of registration/incorporation from Registrar of Societies) indicating that the organization has been in existence for the past three years and evidence of having worked in the Governance sector for the past three years.

We the undersigned Civil Society organizations are of the view that measures put in place have the potential to negatively influence the electoral process and the outcome of the election and ultimately compromise the credibility of an election. Even amidst Covid-19, the Electoral Commission of Zambia must seek to balance the potential health risk and the risk and impact of having an election with compromised credibility. Election observation is not the only key in improving the quality of elections but also in building public confidence in the honesty and credibility of electoral processes.

We observe that in the accreditation notice issued, ECZ is limiting the number of people to be accredited per organization in all constituencies. ECZ may wish to note that constituencies are not homogeneous as some are very vast. It will therefore be time-consuming and costly for political parties, CSOs/FBOs, Independent Candidates to deploy a limited number of monitors and observers to cover an entire constituency. As a result, it will affect the effectiveness of carrying out this important responsibility.

We, therefore, recommend that the ECZ leave it to organizations (Political parties/Independent Candidates, CSOs/FBOs and Media) to decide on the number of persons to be accredited in the Constituencies to be part of specific election activities based on their resources and election monitoring strategy. This is so, especially that only a specific number will be allowed to access the facility at a particular time in adherence to the Covid-19 SOPs. ECZ should also consider increasing the number of monitors expected to be at a particular polling station/tallying center from one to two per organization, especially that they are only expected to be at a particular facility (polling station/tallying/Counting center) for a limited period. Two people will improve the ability to observe any anomaly or issues as opposed to one.

We also note that the process of accrediting local monitors is cumbersome and costly as each monitor is required to submit a certified copy of national registration card (NRC) and three copies of declaration of compliance. The demand for certified copies of registration certificates for organization is inhibitive and must be discarded. ECZ can do vetting using its own system. In any case most of the NGOs monitoring elections are in their system or data base and this may have been directed to new entrants in the monitoring process This is a departure from the previous requirement where monitors were only required to submit uncertified copies of NRCs and one copy of declaration of compliance. We are of the view that the ECZ reverts to the previous requirements for accrediting local monitors and demand a fair engagement of the local stakeholders.

Furthermore, the three years existence of an organizations and working in the governance sector requirement may be a hindrance to the participation of most organizations especially CBOs, social movements and individual activists in the electoral accountability process. ECZ should reduce this to at least 12 months as well as providingfor social movements and individual activists, who are key stakeholders in the electoral process, to participate in the process.

It is our expectation that ECZ will revise the accreditation process, reduce the red tapes and guidelines and/or consult the relevant stakeholders, in view of the recommendations from the undersigned CSOs. We are of the view that the recommendations will help in upholding the integrity of the electoral process, promote transparency and ensure that all key stakeholders contribute effectively to the electoral process. This is in full cognizance of the Standard Operating Procedures put in place to undertake elections in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Issued by
Nalucha Ziba Nganga
Country Director – ActionAid Zambia
For and on Behalf of the undersigned CSOs.
ActionAid Zambia
Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP)
GEARS Initiative Zambia

ividual activists in the electoral accountability process. ECZ should reduce this to at least 12 months as well as providingfor social movements and individual activists, who are key stakeholders in the electoral process, to participate in the process.

It is our expectation that ECZ will revise the accreditation process, reduce the red tapes and guidelines and/or consult the relevant stakeholders, in view of the recommendations from the undersigned CSOs. We are of the view that the recommendations will help in upholding the integrity of the electoral process, promote transparency and ensure that all key stakeholders contribute effectively to the electoral process. This is in full cognizance of the Standard Operating Procedures put in place to undertake elections in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Issued by
Nalucha Ziba Nganga
Country Director – ActionAid Zambia
For and on Behalf of the undersigned CSOs.
ActionAid Zambia
Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP)
GEARS Initiative Zambia

6 COMMENTS

  1. Why is the ECZ acting strangely in this 2021 general election compared to previous elections. Instead of the ECZ being neutral umpire its clear that they want to favor a certain marked political party. It has been frustrating looking closely how the ECZ want to run this year’s elections. Even going to Dubai to witness the printing of ballot papers others stakeholders raised their concerns. May question to the ECZ management are they handling the electoral for themselves or the people of Zambia? For any contest to go smoothly and be credible there is need to put in places rules to be followed strictly by all participants and the referee in this case ECZ not to be biased. We have a right as Zambians to point where we feel that things are not being done according to the set rules. ONE…

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  2. We only read when you put her picture, feels like listening from her.
    Missing Pamela Chisenga, where is that bebs?

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  3. Keeping clean records of monitors is not a bad idea. It will curb making baseless allegations about fraud and corruption. Two, Numbers must be reasonable. Overcrowding is wrong. It is accountability and transparency for CSOs and ECZ. Three, experience is necessary. Without experience, monitors will not perform monitoring in a professional manner. What else? Let us go with one heart to choose our preferred candidates.

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  4. Don’t worry. Voters this time won’t go to sleep until each and every vote is counted at every polling station. PVT has to be there. Everything possible has to be done to stop the rigging

  5. Meanwhile, the Zambian taxpayer is going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in air fares for all the Zambians in Zambian missions abroad to travel to Zambia between now and August 13 just to vote for their employer Edgar Chagwa Lungu. It is high time that Zambian Missions abroad were opened up for voting. If prisoners can vote why can’t Zambians in the diaspora? The next government must take this into account.

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